Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Terrorist and the Sunflowers

I am later to blogging this morning--computer issues kept me from doing all sorts of writing.  But on a day when we remember planes flying into buildings, it's easier to keep computer irritations in perspective.

Today is also the anniversary of the 1973 coup in Chile, the one that ushered in the reign of terror overseen by Pinochet.  I've been thinking about Pinochet's reign of terror, about the events of 2011, about our loved ones who vanish and we're not sure what happened to them. I've been thinking about ash of all sorts. I've been thinking of all those documents incinerated on September 11, 2001. I suspect I've been thinking about those documents so that I can repress the memories of bodies. I keep thinking of the Pentagon, of taking a tour of the Pentagon when I was in grade school, of being told how indestructible that building was constructed to be--but it wasn't.

I come back to things we've learned since--that even large terrorist organizations have an HR department of sorts.  The one nugget that has stuck with me the longest is the one that Lawrence Wright told about Osama bin Laden, who flirted with both terrorism and agriculture, before committing to terrorism. He loved his sunflowers.

I understand how people become disaffected enough to leave their sunflowers behind and turn to dreams of destruction. I'm grateful for my religious heritage that reminds me of the seductive qualities of evil, that warns me not to succumb to that glittery facade.

I've written a poem about the terrorist and the sunflowers.  It's a different approach to today, and I mean no disrespect to those who died on this day, and those who continue to suffer because of that day.

Osama’s Sunflowers

The terrorist sits in his armed
compound and watches videos
of himself. He counts
his weapons and yearns
for a nuclear bomb.

The terrorist dreams of hamburgers
and the joy of a cold beer
on a hot day.
The terrorist remembers the grill
he used to have, a container
of gas used to cook,
not to kill.

The terrorist tamps
down his longing
for the sunflowers he used to grow,
their bright smiles turned
towards blue skies.
He wonders about the different trajectory
had he chosen seeds and soil
instead of flame and ash.

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