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Weekly Poem: ‘TV, Evening News’

By Marie Ponsot

—seen on CNN, autumn 2005, Afghanistan

It’s a screenful of chaos but

the cameraman’s getting good framing shots

from behind one woman’s back.

The audio’s poor. The shouts are slices of noise.

I don’t know the languages.

 

No hot hit heroes are there.

No wicked people are there.

 

Achilles is not there, or Joshua either.

Rachel is not there, nor Sojourner Truth.

Iwo Jima flag boys? not there.

Twin Towers first defenders? not there.

My children are thank God not there

any more or less than you and I are not there.

 

I safe screen-watch. A youth

young in his uniform

signals his guard squad

twice: OK go, to the tanks

and the cameramen: OK go.

 

The tank takes the house wall.

The house genuflects. The tank proceeds.

The house kneels. The roof dives.

The woman howls. Dust rises.

They cut to the next shot.

 

The young men and the woman

breathe the dust of the house

which now is its prayer.

A dust cloud rises, at one

with the prayer of all the kneeling houses

asking to be answered

and answerable anywhere.

 

Marie Ponsot has published several books of poems, including most recently, “Easy” (2009), “Springing” (2002) and “The Bird Catcher” (1998), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Click here for her recently aired profile on the NewsHour.

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