over young soldiers’ bones
When Iraq war began, after all those worldwide protests and people saying (to the US) ‘Of course you can win the war, but can you win the peace?’ — everyone knowing it could not end well and that it was based on a lie, and it began anyway, I was seriously depressed. We in the west were fed our daily bullshit, knowing that so many people were dying and that all it was creating was more hatred. I painted with black and wrote the above summer stubble poem to Basho, in answer to his famous poem:
Ah! Summer grasses!
All that remains
Of the warriors’ dreams
by Matsuo Basho 1644-1694
Translated by: R. H. Blyth, 1952
I have trouble with war. Who doesn’t? Most of the time it seems to be the equivalent of animals fighting over a nesting site, or the favour of the females. And all the nationalistic fervour just breeds more hatred and makes people blind to the simple fact that we are all human. We are all human with people we love and tiny children who know nothing of all this until we indoctrinate them into it.
When I was in grade one, I used to give my lunch to a little aboriginal girl who had none. The colour of her skin meant nothing to me. My mum started to pack enough lunch for her too. Later I discovered that the land I walked on was drenched with the blood of her people.
I feel embarrassed. I feel embarrassed about so much that people do. Don’t tell me all the reasons for this war or that war, I do know the facts. I still feel embarrassed about it.
row on row of poppies
where blood once flowed