Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán

canción / cradleboard

I want to give you a song to carry you through this time of dying.
                   You are walking through a valley of death, past fields of abandoned mines and a succession of nations that no longer exist.
                                              The war is not over. We know this in our bones. You were born in a time of dying, and expected to sing through a healing. If I could, darling,I’d weave you a basket for all the poison.
                                                                                     Each line,
                                                             a sedge root
                                                                                     sacred taken,
                                                                 sung over.
                          Spines of medicine,
                                                                   willow woven round.

You carry us through.

The Training

For her, there is always the fear of violencia growing up. It is the Jew in her, the Holocaust, la Inquisición, las pesadillas nocturnas. A stray bullet, death threat, forced removal, y expulsión. A knife/gun (wound), quick kick a la cabeza, kidnapping, abducción, loose granada, pin pulled. Beatings, riots, guerra, rapto, y abuso. She knows not what is safe and what is certain. To whom to turn, and from whom to run. Home being both and neither. It is the cop in her, the gang member, marine, grunt. It is the peeling of potatoes, in kitchens, continual shining of boots, polishing of brass, loading and unloading of ammo. It is maneuvers once a month, take tu hija to work day, photos of the old neighborhood before it “went bad.” It is the Nazi emblem on her grandpeople’s passports, the way keys are placed between dedos, una botella ready to be broken siempre en mano. It is uniforms pressed and ironed, cicatrices y flashbacks, the training, always the training. It is the entering of restaurants and leaving of them, in one piece, intact. It is eye-hand coordinación, the performatives of aggressive heteromasculinity, Old Spice, Drakkar, tattoos, beebee guns, animales muertos, y road kill. The way no sign of remorse is shown in finding the dead, removing the body, examining the corpse. It is the stone face of (in)justice. It is a cold bed, father gone, nation at war, missiles aimed at your homeland, relatives being trained to invade it. It is Arab American Jew in the Persian Gulf (War). It is Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Army—but not Coast Guard. It is boxing in the living room, estilete, switchblade, butterfly, y machete. It is Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu, Jujitsu, Karate, any other art deadly and violent, protective and beautiful, none your own. It is rotating schedule, reserves, active duty, calling people in the street “civilians.” It is World War II, Viet Nam, John Wayne, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Korea, WWI, and III. It is all the movies rented and on TV, drive-in y al cine. It is always being ready, for combat and death; murder, suicide, genocide, homicide, ecocide, and ethnocide. It is the wearing of protective layers, KIWI polish, a toothbrush you do not use for your teeth. It is Shields picnics, DEA cards in the window of your car, stories/cuentos, y excusas/alibis. It is not hugging your father goodbye al aeropuerto, metal detectors, winter jackets in the middle of summer, never taking off your shirt (in public), always packing. It is the farthest table in the restaurant, the base exchange/commissary, discounts on cigarettes, alcohol, and CDs. It is Risk, AD&D, computer games, DefCon 5. It is weigh-ins and discharges, honorable and un, detox and MP. It is chain of command, disciplina, rigor, no sleep, leave, a rotating work week. It is pensión y planning, educational vestments, GI bills, y military ID. It is serial number, precinct, division, squadron, y platoon. It is Miranda, Civil Service, y promoción, brutality, health care, and benefits, not coming home at night, sleeping on the job, between shifts. It is double duty, back-to-backs, relocation, reassignments, reciprocity. It is my hand washes your hand rubs your back scratches mine pulls the trigger. It is names, codenames, Morse code, colores, barrios, gangs, declaring war, war zones, boundaries, borderlands, policing la frontera, “making” “peace.” It is wrists tied together, handcuffed and nightsticked, alcoholismo, un gun club, gun clip, AK47, with laser sight, night vision, provisions, rations, the rush of adrenalina, suicide rates, and spousal/child abuse. It is the commute, toll bridge, free samples, protección, extorsión, piece of mind, tab that is never paid. It is viaje y libertad, a way out of the ghetto, el hood, encarcelación, being paid to do things you once thought/knew were illegal. It is Fort Apache the Bronx, Rikers, 24 hours, confinement, life-sentencing, the death penalty, prosecution, y defense. It is possession, resisting arrest, 1st degree, 2nd, manslaughter, woman, infant, boy, girl, abuela, niño/a. It is the shaving of bullets, hollowing out of points, target after target after target. Squad car and RV, submarine y aircraft carrier, radio outpost, ditch, and trench. It is classified, hush-hush, for your eyes only, keycard, and security clearance; shredder, lithograph, Ziploc baggies, fingerprints, and DNA. It is cement slippers, boot camp, boom boxes, being pushed off a roof, out a ventana, mary jane, crack, and crank, freebasing but not for free. It is American flag, 4th of July, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Labor Day, fundraisers for widows, orphans, litigation, repatriation. It is Republican, Democrat, anti-crime, war on drugs, just say no. Es la distinción entre harina y cocaína, DWI and driving while ability impaired, khaki versus moss, moss versus hunter, hunter versus forest, and forest versus sand. It is gritting your teeth, on your knees, your stomach, barbed wire, razor wire, swamp water, leeches licking your skin. It is holding cells y curfews, AA/NA/NRA/CIA meetings. It is the street, the beat, patrol, and a nice cushy desk job. It is 20 years, 25, 30, never retiring, killed in the line of duty, AWOL. It is daughter for Annapolis, son for West Point, genderless unborn grandchild for Colorado. It is Camp Lejune, Parris Island, 29 Palms, the local recruiter’s office. It is college credit, loan deferral, forgiveness, economic but not international. It is God y country, Christianity, protect and serve, force if necessary, siempre necesario. It is citizen’s arrest, videotape, Beta and VHS, Watergate, Iran-Contra, y Grenada. It is “New York’s finest” (and the world’s). It is being ready for anything, anywhere, anytime, with anyone, and over the smallest of details. It is infractions, injunctions, induction (ceremonies), pomp and circumstance, never backing down from a fight. It is win, win, win, never stop, only one winner here, and it better be me. It is always loaded, it is always cocked back, and the safety is never on. It is friendly fire, crosshairs, sniper, Green Beret, Kentucky windage, the Seals (not Easter), and ransoms. It is hostage situation, misdemeanor, criminal offense, three strikes, first strike, pre-emptive, no strike, you’re out, hideout. It is informant, paid and otherwise, off-duty, on-duty, provocación, felon(y), due process, court dates, arraignments, settlements, and “good” judges. It is about being, above all things, a man, an American, and a servant of God. It is knowing the reason for a blood groove on a knife. It is duty, honor, and respect. It is GA, FS, GED, BA, BS, Master’s (in Criminology or Military Science). It is credit, approved loans, first house outside la ciudad. It is home, home with programmable security system, attack dog, two, three, five locks on the door. It is suburbs and city, distinctions always clear, children never knowing, wife knowing too much, bills paid, medications taken. It is liver damage, cirrhosis, ulcers, heart palpitations, weight gain, (hair) loss, fucked-up braindead sense of humor, dementia, y flatscanning. It is end of the day, holster on the rack, beer out of the fridge, paper y remote in hand, one more day till pension, one more hour of overtime, one more child through college. It is the beginning and the end and the long duration. It is not just a job, but an adventure, a Coney Island ride, free of charge, where you never get off. It is Nathan’s, U.S. RDA, carnivore/omnivore, hecho en los Estados Unidos, anti-inmigración, and labor disputes. It is the vessel in your eye ready to burst, the aneurism, soft stroke, timer ready to go, stopwatch ticking. It is the typewriter and the report, description, artist’s impression, sketch, carpool lane. It is a fist and a handshake, grabbing of arms, putting behind of backs, locking of wrists, tying of each hand with rope, knife in the other, countdown. And it is the only thing she has ever known.

Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán is the author of Antes y después del Bronx: Lenapehoking and editor of an international queer Indigenous issue of Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, and Thought. His work has appeared in many publications around the world. He is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at Michigan State University.
previous page     contents     next page


Post a Comment

<< Home