Jericho Antiphonal

A call to Prayer.

The thorns and briars of your sin-

A call to arms.

You hear that tick, tick, ticking?

Dams up your heart from God-

So say a prayer for me.

It’s the sound of your seething heart.

And grant my family salvation.

Your love-

Scourge your bodies of sin and weakness.

And your incendiary rage.

Purge those thorns and briars like an infernal machine, back whence they came.

Because you know in your heart of hearts that you are powerless to protect the ones you love.

So now your heart is fit to burst. Its furious palpitations cannot be contained any longer.

We are spared the soldier’s reason for fear. Every time he goes on patrol or mounts the defences, he does not know if he will return alive. But we know precisely. We are in control of death and therefore destiny.

Scoop him all up. I want to be able to reconstruct the criminal to gather exactly how he was blown to bits. I want any and all ordnance material off him so I can know his bomb. I want to restitch his belt. To see how much he was perspiring. I want to know how he got among us.

If I run the risk of my family choosing to forsake me, my people will only cherish me as a hero. Coffin calculus.

I want to know more about him than his own mother.

My singular regret is that I will not live to see my children inherit their homeland. But such is the world that I must fight to establish my son’s birthright and endow my daughter’s dowry with substance.

What’s to know? His banshee mother suckled him venom. Taught him all about outrage at her gnarled knee. A literal reading of nursery rhymes.

And when I’ve finished detailing the exact chain of death-dealing. Then we’ll wait for the flesh pieces in their little plastic bags to liquefy, before presenting it to the family for burial. Pierce a few holes in the polythene beforehand. Hey, it’s a dirty war. Do I look like detergent?

We are offered the imprint of the stars and stripes. carrot and stick for us stubborn mules. Follow their dream. The stripes, well they are the welts across our backs when they lash us. The stars they dangle are only those of idolatrous celebrity. So now they invade and infect our dreams. Like demons. Like succubi.

See, I am even in one of your cars! It has the shape of your design. Your fantasies are used to peddle it. Not ours. Yours. But I am going to trade it in for scrap. Body part-exchange. Flesh for shrapnel. My bones passing easily through my flesh in order to slice through yours.

And my undelivered final message. The one drowned out by the blast. Is that I love you my darling. Even as I seemingly repudiate you by this act. I am not propelling myself away from you. You do understand that. You must understand it.

Bomber

Beast! Maniac!

Extremist

Martyr, hero! Martyr, hero! Martyr, hero!

Evil. Pure evil

Patriot

Beyond words. Unspeakable

Murderer!

Soldier

Father

daddy!

Human bomb

Lover

Student

of death

Terrorist

Freedom Fighter

Sapper

of hope

Martyr, hero! Martyr, hero! Martyr, hero!

Poster boy

Vapourised

I only have to stand in front of one of you, inhale your fetid, second-hand stolen air, in order to combust. So I may as well seek to expel as many of you as possible with my every last breath. I will blow holes in all the arguments you can muster. I will shout you down deafeningly. Damn you all to hell!

And if on attaining paradise, we find either its gates barred to us, or we gain admittance but then find it more iniquitous than purgatory down here on earth, that we were peddled a lie, then we shall just have to start up again. To resist, fight, to battle in order to tear up Heaven itself. So as to reorder it and restructure it along the lines of justice. For eternity if necessary…

~ by yearzerowriters on November 15, 2009.

5 Responses to “Jericho Antiphonal”

  1. this is so interesting–it took a few reads to get it. Or think I get it. i got frightened when it looked like a poem at first (me and poems don’t get along so well); and then it clearly read like a message.

    i wonder–just wonder–why it is that we find it so much easier to perceive the oppressed/victims/occupied as a poetic tragedy. whereas the blunt force of the oppressors/occupiers/inflictors is so unpoetic. is it because of the binary oppositions revealed after Enlightenment? science/fact over nature/poetry?

    ok i’m over thinking this as usual. beautiful piece.

    ~jenn

  2. A love poem for suicide bombers. Great work.

  3. I guess we bring preconceived sympathies to bear so we know which voice(s) chime discordantly and which resonate along with those sympathies.

    I actually just wanted to produce disembodied voices – the great irony of one of the most destructive material/physical forces in the form of a bomb, seeking to implant a continuous idea/emotion in the mind ie terror. Material force to underscore ideological touchstone language and vice versa.

    Ideally I’d like to present this with a soundtrack of FX, layer the chorusing effect.

    Marc

  4. The voices are, of course, the shrapnel from the epicentre of the blast. Great stuff.
    Dan

  5. Love the lines about being in control of death and destiny, and that final para about carrying the battle into paradise. Disembodied voices – yes, it works!

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