Chemical Weapons

I remember

I didn’t take pictures
But I remember
Moving through that human smoke
That reeked of melted steel and burning flesh

I remember working
So hard and so long and so dirty
That I don’t know how my legs or lungs kept moving
But I couldn’t stop
I didn’t know how
All I knew was that I was moving forward
And forward was the only way
that I could stand to go

The world was broken
The sky had fallen
Everything was upside down and smelled like steely flesh
And all I could do was move
To carry boots or water bottles
Or anything that I could carry
To help
To feed that parasitic sense of purpose
That promised me I mattered
In the face of that hateful crater
That told me
I didn’t

All of that
Is here with me now
And I wonder
Often
I wonder often how far we have fallen since then
In the name of justice
Or revenge
Or security
So many flavors
For this poison

Remember when they told us
That if we couldn’t go on
Then the terrorists had won
You must remember
Such big words
But maybe
Maybe not big enough

Because now here I sit
12 years later with those days
And those old ghosts still banging in my head
That unbearable smell still in my nose
That texture of someone’s ashes on my clothes
And against everything I believed back then
Before I hit rock bottom falling off my high horse
And things turned into something that felt much more
Like pain and shame and rage

Here I sit

And I can’t help but think that maybe
Maybe
Maybe they won after all

So much death
Years and years of death
Firing into the darkness
The terrible no good darkness
Where all of our enemies must live

And maybe
Maybe they won after all

Because our walls got higher
And our laws got tighter
And we set the goddamn world on fire
But nothing got safer
And everything’s colder
And God knows none of us got closure

This blood lust can’t be satisfied
Hot on my tongue the taste of pride
I swallow each time that we lie
That we feel something when they die
So many
So different
They must be different
And the ease with which we hate
Takes me back 12 years to that fucking day
When something much worse than all that death escaped

Because I know now
That Ground Zero
Is not just that place
Not fences, guards or wire gates
Plastered with faces of missing
Though we knew they weren’t missing at all

Ground Zero’s the symptom of a larger disease
That we caught in the ashes of 3000 dreams
And we spread it like pox as if that makes us free
While we rot from this weapon
that we still don’t see.

Now our Congress debates a new Syrian Ground Zero
We repackage this lie
As the world’s superhero
But there’s just this one memory
I’d like to get clear
Didn’t you say Al Qaeda brought Ground Zero here

And now we send them guns
And we’re helping them kill
If that doesn’t terrify us
Then what will

How can we not see it
Our own hell
recreated
After 12 years of fear
We’ve become what we hated

This cannot continue
This sickness of state
For every new bomb a Ground Zero awaits
And each new Ground Zero more death and more hate
And each new Ground Zero points back to that date
To the morning my beautiful city was raped
And something much worse than all that death escaped

~ HM

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About American Raksha

Writer, digital media strategist, Chaos Ninja and advocate of strategic nonviolent action. www.heathermccuen.com
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