violence

louise_woodard_violent_passages

louise_woodard_violent_passages

“All a poet can do today is warn” remarks the poet Wilfred Owen. Warnings come in varied ways. In “The People of the Other Village”, a beautiful, brutal poem written by American poet Thomas Lux in opposition to the Gulf War, these warnings come in the form of dark irony and cutting wit when he compares its escalating violence to that of tribal conflicts:

The People of the Other Village
hate the people of this village
and would nail our hats
to our heads for refusing in their presence to remove them
or staple our hands to our foreheads
for refusing to salute them
if we did not hurt them first: mail them packages of rats,
mix their flour at night with broken glass.
We do this, they do that.
They peel the larynx from one of our brothers’ throats.
We devein one of their sisters.
The quicksand pits they built were good.
Our amputation teams were better.
We trained some birds to steal their wheat.
They sent to us exploding ambassadors of peace.
They do this, we do that.
We canceled our sheep imports.
They no longer bought our blankets.
We mocked their greatest poet
and when that had no effect
we parodied the way they dance
which did cause pain, so they, in turn, said our God
was leprous,hairless.
We do this, they do that.
Ten thousand (10,000) years, ten thousand
(10,000) brutal, beautiful years.

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