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Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Fire (9/11 poem) & a decade of aftermath

The fire has come down from the mountain

The fire has come down from the mountain
napalm has returned home from the jungles and plains
King Kong, Hollywood's great ape of the 3rd world
has screamed his rage astride New York's tallest towers

The fire has come down from the mountain
Kong has crossed the waters at last
The happy hour mantra of Washington pols
"what goes around comes around" rings true
and the fire has come down from the mountain
napalm is home from the jungle and plains

- Chris Faiers  (September 11, 2001)

"The Fire" appeared in the anthology "Crossing Lines -
Poets Who Came to Canada in the Vietnam War Era"
(Seraphim Editions, 2008)

War-era poets share experiences
Toronto Star review of "Crossing Lines" by Joe Fiorito

"The Fire" also appeared in The Political Issue - The Pedestal Magazine


I wrote this poem the day after September 11, 2001, and my webmaster, Weed, posted it on his site within a day or so of the tragedy.

I immediately knew we were experiencing one of modern history's transformative events, and I understood that most of the changes would not be for the expansion of planetary goodwill and peace. As someone who opposed American involvement in the Vietnam War, and who left that country in protest in 1969, I intuited there was some karmic connection with that empire's legacy of horrific destruction and the murdering of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people, most humble peasants.
For once Hollywood didn't flinch and captured the essence of the brutality of that immoral, imperialist war in movies like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket and Platoon.

It was surprising then for all of us to watch the story unfold, and to learn the names bin Laden and Al Quaeda. The close connections between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family and the fact that most of the hijackers were Saudis added to the stew.    

Of course a crazy terrorist like bin Laden deserved to be immediately hunted down and dealt with. But delays and ineptitude gave the impression that nobody really wanted to capture bin Laden - that having a cave-living renegade offered the American military industrial complex (Pres. Eisenhower's description) a chance to again pursue the founding U.S. mantra of manifest destiny.

Once again, hundreds of thousands of innocents, Iraqis and Afghanis this time, paid the hungry empire with their lives. Empires never seem to learn, and the empire racked up millions more souls in their karmic debt.
If I liked Billy Joel's music, I'd queue his song "We Didn't Start the Fire" at this point.


On the petty personal level, I almost immediately realized  the paranoia and jingoism fanned by 9/11 would likely mean I'd never visit the U.S. again. And I haven't. Think Maher Arar. My mother is now 88 years old, and I haven't seen her in a decade, and I'll probably never see her alive again. She will be buried in Canada, though, in St. John's Anglican Cemetery in her native Ancaster, Ontario.
Fires and empires be damned!

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