The Problem With Words by Elizabeth Robin

I am not a silent poet

stiff, red-splotched men straight from three-martini
lunches speak eloquently in metaphor
their urgency underscored by using ridicule–
negotiation, compromise become weakness–
as they call for boots, boots, boots on the ground

when a poet comes to despise synecdoche
that shapes the horror we accept, are there words
to squelch canned movie lines, rolled out like a game
little boys extend from their cowboy-and-indian days?

who wears these boots, sent to some extreme
and alien climate, brought to harsh tests packed
with rules unwritten, or in some alien tongue?

ask for boots, boots, boots on the ground
criticize this, and betray those thousands we bury
or ignore in VA hospitals and mental wards
while hungry tongues lap up war and swallow

drones, snipers, bombers-most-Christian,
market collateral damage in flippant phrases
tossed out like candy to greedy warmongers

call them boots
but don’t pretend
what we risk
is just a little leather

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