Friday, October 21, 2011

"Daddy, I thought you said killing people was wrong?"

Oddly, that was the first thought that popped into my head as I sat (yet again) in the doctor's office yesterday morning.  With no other patient in the waiting room but me, and a white, older-than-me, retired military guy - the local morning show was interrupted with this breaking news report: "Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is dead."

When I looked up at the flat-screen from my book, I saw a bloodied body, wrapped in what looked like a white sheet, the corner being pulled back - for all the world to see. The retiree looked at me, saying, "Oh, that's old news!" Apparently he had risen way earlier than I.

All I could do was shake my head and return to sister-friend, Nikky Finney's new book of poetry, "Head Off  & Split."

A little off-topic, but not (I promise to bring you right on back where I started!), how I found her after 35 years - both of us, fully grown into ourselves - was amazingly serendipitous. Last week, I came across a poetry review of Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie's, "Karma's Footsteps" at Chickenbones.  I wondered aloud, "Could this be the same Nikky Finney with whom I went to college?!"

I started to click away, but the question just kept gnawing at me - so I googled her. And the minute I landed on her site, I could see that same, perfectly symmetrical afro-wearing, line-sister I'd known - in the eyes I found there.

Listening to her being interviewed, I couldn't help but feel my own early foot-steps - in sync with hers. It was so wonderfully moving to hear her, expressing feelings and experiences that I'd felt required, to pack away in the recesses of my 18 year-old self, when I left home in search of my "American Dream."

Later, more than halfway through to 55 however, I began to realize that, as proffered, that particular "Dream," required way more than I was willing to give up of myself. So, I began to unpack those tucked-away feelings, smoothing out the wrinkles and wearing them proudly as I continually searched, for what being of my grandmother's Sea Island farm - and Africa - really meant.

I dithered for awhile, not sure whether I should send an email to find out for sure if it was, in fact, Nikky. Finally, thinking, “All she can say is, No!” - I said to myself, “What the hell, go ahead and send it!” She replied with a, "Hey good sister!! It's me! It's me alright! So glad you followed your mind and heart and pushed the SEND button! How you doing?" After a brief email exchange, I told her I was heading right out to get her books - and I did.

Finding Nikky and her poems last week - telling the stories that my new foot-steps had begun to recover and reclaim - was a wonderfully confirming nudge to my ongoing, "looking back, to go forward" journey (versus the Changeling's, "Look forward not back" bullshit advice to e'erybody).

Odder still, when the "breaking news" broke, I was halfway through her, at once, hilarious and sad-in-its-realness poem, "Plunder," about Shrub delivering his final State of the Union address. Here's where I was interrupted:

Repeats. This crescendo, in F major. Lip-syncing
the words better than Milli Vanilli. He palms the
ball again like he really wants to keep shooting.
He knows he should pass but it's the end. It is
midnight of every muscle-hearted wannabe.
Game over & out. With his right hand he fakes
a pass, then imagines a beautiful Michael Jordan
follow-through. His wrist hangs in the air like a
frozen praying mantis. He's feeling Dolly deeper.
"So true, Mr. President, so true!" a loyal fan
shouts. "My fellow Americans - Ain't it funny how
the years will find you searching through your plunder -
looking for all the treasures you gave up." Treasures?
Plunder? Get it? Well, are you with me?
After looking up and seeing the body, the Changeling and his daughters, along with the poem's "Treasures? Plunder?" began to roll around in my head - all at the same time, causing me to shake it as I wondered, "How will he explain this to their not-yet-grown-up selves? How would he put it, that he'd had no problem, paying that very high, "price of the ticket" (being directly involved in yet another killing and all)?" The answer came out, almost before I was done thinking the questions: "That American exceptionalism bullshit, of course!" Just too hilariously sad...

Remembering my countrymen's uproar over showing the bodies of our dead in photos or video, the bile rose up in my throat over the hypocrisy of the mainstream media. They were just a lit-tle, too eager - after a quick, "Warning:  What follows is graphic" - to televise the dead body of Qaddafi.

Some of that, "real American," revengeful, warm and fuzzy shit, I guess. Or maybe, more of that theatrical, pre-election fare (like this little piece of expediency - based, no doubt, on this little piece of we ain't havin' it!  Even though the "leaving" was also "inherited" from Shrub.  Like I said - theater.). Either way it was crass, and unwarranted.

I do wonder though - why, "our enemy," Osama bin-Laden, got the "swim-with-fishes" treatment, while Qaddafi, to whom we, and the other two "usual suspects" had been selling arms and providing military training, got the full-monty. Was it some sort of exclamation point to the Libyans, about who's in charge now? As I said, I shook my head and turned away - because Murder is Murder and, "If it bleeds, it leads" carries absolutely no weight around here.


I'm sure though, as dusk settled in on "Operation Odyssey Dawn" -- 

there was a "whole lotta shakin' going on" yesterday among the puppet, carrying on like his predecessor in the Big House, and  Wannabe King David across the pond at #10 Downing St. (gotta love cartoonist, Leon Kuhn!) - and of course, Little Napoleon-Sarkozy of "Le Gai Paris" (come to think of it, I wonder what story he"ll be telling his just-born, first-daughter?  I kinda doubt it'll be this one).


"People who treat other people as less than human, must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned."
James Baldwin

No doubt about it first-daughters, killing people - especially when they pose no immediate threat to you - IS wrong.  And when your grown-up selves begin to face the truth of the rumors,  I hope you'll go back to your, dear old Dad and ask again - "Daddy, I thought you said killing people was wrong?"  Hopefully, for your sakes, he'll tell you the truth.

2 comments:

nomad said...

Yes, I've been trying to think of how history will remember Obama. The Great Compromiser? The Great Capitulates? The Great Assassinator?

Hi. Just passing thru. :-)

Deb said...

My, my, my! Is that a SMILE at the end of your comment??!

Just messin' witcha, Man. How are you? I've been here and gone, and here again for a few weeks. Went back to Africa and wrote absolutely nothin'! Internet access was shitty to none, plus I got bit by something that had my rt. foot all swollen, caught a cold that turned into bronchitis and cracked one of my damned front teeth (among other things)!! Heading back with the fam soon to try again though.

As for your comment - revisionists abound as we well know. Hell, he might be written in as Abe Lincoln Jr. by the time it's all said and done! :-)

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