“War Film” by Freya Jackson

Freya Jackson


They’ll make a film about all of this someday—
Someone’s probably writing it already, spitballing:

Can we get DeVito to play Trump; let’s call it satire;
Have you seen Jo Jo Rabbit—throw down enough

Money we can make it critically acclaimed, baby—
Can we get more corpses on the wide shot; them,

Us, it doesn’t matter; can we get Adam Driver
To play Bobby from Idaho, Indiana—somewhere

Rust Belt—can we frame his hands here, how
They move and twist and turn—watch him shake

Out the war, tuck it into those big hands of his,
Pan outside to the dead, the weight of the slain:

The good guys, bad guys—feel the mechanisms of
War already beginning and forget that it is

Not yet unstoppable, not yet written into history,
The people who might die are still, today, living—

Tearing bread, feeling the closeness of water
In the air, making space for love, wherever they

Might be, whatever they believe in, before they
Feel that inevitable movement of parts, the slow

Groaning of loss before the military steamrolls
Through, leaving in its wake nothing of value—

A spare can of Coca-Cola, a superfluous leg, the U.S.
Flag and all that rubble, which is to say war never

Ends, not completely—the rip of earth cannot stitch
Itself together without leaving a gap, something holy

That aches to be watered, even as it is left, forgotten—
Tonight, somewhere there is a man waiting in line

At the border, his papers are in order, despite
All that he has left behind him, despite all he could

Not carry with him and all that he carries with him
That he wishes he could leave behind; he keeps

Crossing and uncrossing his legs, he is waiting
To be seen; he feels his daughter behind him—

Drowsy-eyed, half swaying as the wind moves
Her hair while her father crosses and uncrosses

His legs and the night sky turns a gradient red—
But no one wants to watch a film about that.

from Poets Respond
January 5, 2020


Freya Jackson: “This poem is responding to Trump’s actions, which will most likely start a war with Iran, and thinking about how we digest images of war and the kind of war stories we like to tell (such as Sam Mendes’ new film 1917) verses the kind of things we don’t want to think about (displaced people as a result of war, socio-political consequences which last years and even decades after the war finishes).”

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