“[I]n times of crisis it’s interesting that people don’t turn to the novel or say, ‘We should all go out to a movie,’ or ‘Ballet would help us.’ It’s always poetry. What we want to hear is a human voice speaking directly in our ear.”

Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2003) speaking to the New York Times, as quoted in The Dead Beat by Marilyn Johnson

this diary is dedicated to all who suffer because of war and other disasters

we honor courage in all its forms

cross-posted at DailyKos, Booman Tribune, European Tribune, and My Left Wing.

april is national poetry month

image and poem below the fold

A grieving Iraqi man is helped by friends at the funeral for relatives killed by gunmen in the town of Badad Ruz, about 40 km (25 miles) east of Baquba, April 1, 2006. Police said insurgents attacked a group returning from another funeral, killing five people and wounding two. REUTERS/Helmiy Al-Azawi

Woman Martyr
by Agi Mishol
translated by Lisa Katz

The evening goes blind, and you are only twenty.
Nathan Alterman,
“Late Afternoon in the Market”

You are only twenty
and your first pregnancy is a bomb.
Under your broad skirt you are pregnant with dynamite
and metal shavings. This is how you walk in the market,
ticking among the people, you, Andaleeb Takatka.

Someone loosened the screws in your head
and launched you toward the city;
even though you come from Bethlehem,
the Home of Bread, you chose a bakery.
And there you pulled the trigger out of yourself,
and together with the Sabbath loaves,
sesame and poppy seed,
you flung yourself into the sky.

Together with Rebecca Fink you flew up
with Yelena Konre’ev from the Caucasus
and Nissim Cohen from Afghanistan
and Suhila Houshy from Iran
and two Chinese you swept along
to death.

Since then, other matters
have obscured your story,
about which I speak all the time
without having anything to say.
– – –
put a meaningful magnet on your car or metal filing cabinet

read Ilona’s important new blog – PTSD Combat

view the pbs newshour silent honor roll (with thanks to jimstaro at booman.)

take a private moment to light one candle among many (with thanks to TXSharon)

support Veterans for Peace
support the Iraqi people
support the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC)
support CARE
support the victims of torture
remember the fallen
support Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors – TAPS
support Gold Star Families for Peace
support the fallen
support the troops
support Iraq Veterans Against the War
support Military families Speak Out
support the troops and the Iraqi people
read This is what John Kerry did today, the diary by lawnorder that prompted this series
read Riverbend’s Bagdhad Burning
read Dahr Jamail’s Iraq Dispatches
read Today in Iraq
witness every day

a personal note: Various folks have at times expressed their concern about the emotional cost to me of putting together these diaries. I appreciate that concern very much.

Many of you know that in my working life I’m a registered nurse, and that my clinical experience is in high risk/high mortality settings (medical/surgical intensive care, chronic hemodialysis, and bone marrow transplant). Earlier this year I transferred to the neurosciences intensive care unit at my hospital, a well-known tertiary care teaching facility in Boston.

Most of our patients arrive here suddenly, having experienced an unexpected and life-threatening event like an internal brain hemorrhage. These people are “sick” in the most extreme meaning of the term, and those who survive the risks and complications of their injury and treatment often face lengthy rehabilitation and a lifetime of disability.

Others arrive at or near death, and their families are faced with the decision to withdraw life support and/or whether to allow their loved one to become an organ donor.

I like to think that I’m comfortable with death, in the sense that any of us can be comfortable with the inevitable, or that any of us can learn to function as professionals in a stressful setting. At the same time, my challenge is always to balance some sense of humanity with the objectivity and distance that helps me do what I’ve chosen to do.

Anyway, long story short – looking at the images that I use in these diaries, along with the images that I review but ultimately do not use, does not embitter me, or make me feel hopeless. It is not an undue burden.

The images are simply as real a depiction of what is going on in Iraq, or New Orleans, or elsewhere, that I can access without actually being there myself; and I’ve tried to face those realities as honestly as possible.

And frankly, looking at and posting images, no matter how disturbing, is very simply the least that I can do.

More importantly, the ways in which each of you join in this witness is most life affirming. Whether you’ve been here once, or every day; leave a comment, or just look; your presence in these diaries sustains me.


Jerry = RubDMC

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