Photographs painted, cropped, rearranged
into smoke soldier tank desert sky
red on red
horizon line of dreamed landscape
so that it does not look like war—
wounded Marines, no blood—
no detonations, conflagrations
only the white onion tops of minarets, billowing black clothes
on the screen digitalized e-mailed unsigned.
How photogenic the desert is!
The black and whites, uncaptioned, could be
Ansel Adams moon over desert
quiet clean lucky
I collect the pictures from The New York Times.
This is the least I can do:
to remember what happens.
March 2003 in Paris I saw the blue peace sign
hanging from the fourth floor apartment window
in the Ninth Arrondissement,
hurried back to my small hotel between Pigalle and St. Georges
watched the news in French on the tiny black and white TV
bolted to the ceiling above the bed.
The first clippings I saved were from Le Figaro and Paris Match.
In West Virginia in April I cut and pasted, full-page,
full-color Jessica Lynch,
girl from my own country of mud road and canebrake,
filth by the highway loud and steamy in summer,
low white high school building at the edge of the forest
her silent friends stand in a straight row—
She was my best good friend—
they answer the reporters’ questions,
country polite they say yes ma’am no, sir
I have filled five books so far stacked them
under the window that faces the maple turning
red in late September.
Still clipping and pasting my hands
smudged black with newsprint gummy with rubber cement,
my painless war wounds.
Little enough to do to remember what happens,
to remember the war in my books.