Election Section

Sending In The Troops By Margot Pepper

Tuesday December 27, 2005

“How long would authority and private property exist, if not for the willingness of the mass to become soldiers, policemen, jailers and hangmen?”  

—Emma Goldman 


Photos arriving on the wire. 

American soldiers boarding planes,  

dressed for success:  

designer helmets, makeup and Kevlar vests; 

leaden boots and M-16’s slick as Hollywood. 

Bodies taut as cocked weapons,  

their hearts will become as hollow  

as the discarded shells.  


They will bomb the square  

where elders gather to tell stories, 

tear-gas the laughter 

that rides the perfumed winds of desert nights,  

and pillage the secrets of lovers. 

They will shrapnel the future, 

mutilate the past-- 

rape and rub wounds with salt.  

These are humanity’s hangmen. 


I stare at the faces. 

They could be waiting for the subway doors to open,  

or standing in a movie line. 

Is this the face  

once caressed by a mother?  

--once stroked by a lover?  

Are the cheeks soft?  


How many of these faces  

will return to applause, college degrees  

and a home behind a rose-wrapped fence?  

How many will lose their minds  

or drink themselves to death,  

spare-changing between V.A. appointments? 


Don’t you know, soldier, that you are nothing? 

You with the patriotic baby blues,  

or you with your family in the ghetto; 

you with the dark skin at the front of the line,  

or you who wanted to show them  

your parents don’t have to speak English  

for you to be “American”.... 

Your president cares about you  

less than last year’s American car model. 

You are like a little boy  

whose dreams are too small  

and whose boots are far too big-- 

talking tough, terrorizing the playground 

so no one will notice  

you trembling as you take aim against those  

who have more in common with you 

than do the billionaires your weapon protects. 


©2005 Margot “Pimienta” Pepper