June 22, 2014

Kari Gunter-Seymour

A LETTER TO JANI LARSON ON THE MATTER OF SGT. BERGDAHL

We love our sons.
Raised them rich on farm land
or city streets, or Hailey, Idaho.
Taught them honor, to step up
for right and good.
Even so, it may prove true
that your son is responsible for six deaths,
though a spokesman for the Pentagon
can’t confirm.
 
As for my son, he stopped counting.
Had to, lest he turn the weapon on himself.
You’d be amazed how clearly
a soldier can see his target
through a military issue scope.
Brown eyes, sometimes blue,
a dark mole beside the nose,
the awful realization defining
each face a split second
after squeezing the trigger.
Hooah!
 
It’s fight or flight.
Some stay, some flee.
Some get rewards,
some come back alone,
hauling body parts of friends
in zippered bags,
while people in the free world
drink their lattes
and complain.
 
An admiral on TV today said
when one of your shipmates
goes overboard, you go get them.
You don’t ask whether he jumped
or was pushed or he fell.
You go get them.
That’s all well and good, admiral,
but what are you supposed to do
when the whole damn ship is sinking?

Poets Respond
June 22, 2014

[download audio]

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Kari Gunter-Seymour: “I became a military mother in 2003 when my son deployed to Korea for a year, then immediately to Iraq for a second tour. The 503rd saw some of the worst combat of the war, losing a man or more a week during their year in Fallujah/Ramadi. I started journaling and writing poetry as a way to ‘talk’ to my son, as communication was sporadic. At that time, soldiers had to stand in line, sometimes for hours, to call home. I woke up each morning wondering if my son was alive. It was poetry, finding those few precious words to explain my fear and analyze my faith that kept me grounded, got me through.”