Urban Warfare

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written 5/17/08

The late spring heat seems to have angered
The oleanders to trumpet white flowers
From their contentious leaves. Already,
The resinous husks of their burst seed pods
Barbarously litter the crumbling cement.
It is clear: We are at war.
Before the city had disciplined us to its more
Astringent functions, we used to perceive
These intense arousals another way.
Those were the years preceding the insurrection,
When our sense of identification had not been
So blunted by these clutters of civilizing symptoms.
But now, our vast social mechanism, smooth
Enough in its outer workings, has effectively
Eliminated those primitive modalities.
We no longer feel a thing for these white blossoms.
We stand before them completely unashamed.
Although it is treasonous to suggest it,
Perhaps we were happier with that old collaboration,
Now vilified as appeasement. Perhaps the optic
Pleasure made up for the hectic mess.
But now we are inundated by an inert mass
That stubbornly resists our push to own it.
Why won’t these blossoms join the other
Antagonists, the carnival mobs, the image makers,
The police in league with the corporate greenhouse looters?
Why do their pallid lips, unkissing, keep sighing,
“Without our babies, your own babies die.”
Well, that is the way war is, more human, than humane.
But now, we have to initiate long series of complicated
Processes in lieu of what was once a single step:
Happiness triggered by seeing white with green.

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