Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why War Poetry is Like Rape Poetry

I have thought, ever since I began reading and writing poetry that poetry written by the warriors who return from battle and the poetry written by those who have experienced rape are eerily similar. This phenomenon was referenced in a piece on This American Life by a person who experienced rape and war and suffered PTSD. Listen here when it is available.

I am referencing other works in this poem as well:

Here, Bullet by Brian Turner

Daughterfuckers by me

Why War Poetry is Like Rape Poetry

Aside from the obvious

rape is a weapon in war
and a very cost-effective
high-yield weapon, at that

Aside from that

there is the trauma
the left-overs
the night-sweat screaming

And I am talking about the warriors here

not the populace
not the collateral damage
the war kind or the rape kind

‘cause I am a warrior, too, you know

ordered, without control
marching where and when told
my body not my own

I read Here, Bullet and I see myself

perched on a housetop
peering through scopes at the enemy
not sure who he was, is

I write Daughterfuckers and I see a soldier

told to suck it up
hiding the traumatic pain
wondering where to put the anger

It’s a wonder we survive at all

when we do, if we do
and the words we write-verboten
who wants to hear about that, anyway

Studying Music after Molestation

he would seduce me after my music lesson
offering attention and trauma in unequal measures
I would play scales for Blanche
and then pay the piper for him

Tommie would wonder why I was so ungrateful
stopping the lessons so soon
so late

my sister would have loved to play longer
but she didn’t have the advantages I was offered
lucky me

now I sit in a classroom listening to piano concertos
and fugues
I relate

hiding in the clefs and trebles are the notes
I recorded so deeply
this sonata’s third movement is especially chilling

I study music appreciation
tone, pitch, rhythm, timbre
all are here and now
it’s the history that trips me up