Friday, December 16, 2011

War Ends - No Joke (and three jokes)

War Ends - Does Anyone Notice?

The Iraqi War ended this week. The military carried out the appropriate pomp and circumstance, the President made the appropriate speeches, reporters asked appropriate questions of military spouses. And yet, something's missing. Nine years of war ends, so we are told. That would seem to be cause for quite a celebration, for fireworks and parades, for drunken revelry in the streets, and solemn memorials at cemeteries. I guess those things did happen, to one degree or another, but the biggest buzz in Denver today is about the Broncos' winning streak, the signing of Nene to a $67 million contract with the Nuggets, and the utility company's proposed $142 million rate hike.

Oh well, I do appreciate that the soldiers are leaving Iraq. But, nine years later, I ask, is the world a better place because of what the U.S. has done in Iraq? It's certainly not safer.

Here's something I wrote one sleepless night a few years ago when the war raged in all its ugly glory and dehumanizing violence. I've printed this before on La Bloga, hope you don't mind a repeat.

Manuel Ramos
All rights reserved, copyright 2007

silver sheen slipped
around twilight
bathing us
in summer’s ache

joan baez sang
it’s all over now
baby blue
she knew the story
behind that song
but she
was not talking
not revealing
any secrets
except for what
I could decipher
from her
emphasized words

we drank red wine
slapped at mosquitoes
convinced ourselves
age and experience
make up
for enthusiasm
and ambition

the time of year
required an
emotional response
but we staggered
in our search for meaning

we drank red wine
slapped at glowing insects
filtered our thoughts

an accusatory wind
washed through the
urban valley
breaking an
uneasy truce
redefining the moment
our malaise took root
orange-tinged electric paranoia
conquered gray inertia

we lapsed into
the collective dream
of the folding sky

death machines
rolled through the desert
children with bloody stumps
stared with charcoal-ringed eyes
their halos
glimmered against
the smoky night
as they melted
into reflecting pools
of ten thousand mosques

the old glorious shroud
whipped the sand
until only the glassy moon
from beyond the horizon

barbed wire dripped
the lava of despair
guard dogs
spoke spanish
but the hunted travelers
were mute
and blind
and lost

they avoided
eye contact
their embarrassment
knocked me to my knees

somewhere an old man
gasped his final breath
an infant breathed
her first and only ration of life
while pastel heirs
hunted painted eggs
in texas buffalo grass
littered with foil wrappers
and q-tips

i wanted out of the dream
but i was surrounded
by celebrity hounds
licking at my
rusty sandals

young women
puckered elderly lips
plumped with gold
their bruised necks
slumped under the weight
of diamond chokers
as they waded through
tar-drenched muck
until they drowned
in their imaginations

the thump
of incoherent rhythms
bounced from a tilted
alabaster condo
that stood over the rubble of
little mexico
the bottoms
paddy town
and where inuna-ina once skinned antelopes

a siren cut the night
but my deafness prevented a response

the policeman reported
an ignored car alarm
as a useless gesture
the schizophrenic cacophony
of neighborhood watch
and worldwide amnesia

he lost his job
when he used his badge
as an umbrella
to hold back tears
from squandered hopes
and violent choices

naked grandchildren
paraded through a living room
stuffed with their parent’s memories
i whispered something
about the usual suspects

stainless steel jail bars
clutched their errant lovers
who watched the warden
hang himself
elevator music
flooded the cell blocks
i hummed along
because i knew all the words

i jerked away from the dream
and realized
i had not been asleep
there was no wine
and I was alone


Because it's a complex world, jokes now enter the stage.

Joke Contest

Here are the jokes that win a free Gabriel Iglesias DVD. Thanks to all who contributed. Humor is such an elusive spirit; what strikes me as funny may irritate you. On the other hand, we can't have too much laughter - as long as one person laughs, the joke is a winner.

First, Erlinda Moscoso's tale of an overheard comment at a very important dinner:

What were the last words that Jesus said to his apostles at the Last Supper?
"If you want to be in the picture, sit on this side of the table!"

Then, Darold Vigil's take on the truism about jumping to conclusions:

A Chicano walks into a fancy bar in the financial district of a large city. The bartender, also a Chicano, greets him with the Chicano handshake. The first Chicano asks the barkeep, "Orale carnal, how's a vato like you afford such an expensive suit and working in a place like this?" They have a fifteen minute conversation until an Anglo customer takes a seat at the bar.

The bartender excuses himself and ask the new customer, "Hello, sir. I hope you are having a wonderful day. May I suggest our trademark martini today?" He begins a fifteen minute conversation with the new customer about the stock market, suburban living, and how the Mexicans are ruining the city.

The bartender eventually returns to the first customer. The Chicano, now angry, says, "I heard you talking to that guy in perfect English, with no accent. #$%@**&!. The whole time we were talking, you were making fun of me!"

The bartender says, "Chale. I was making fun of the way he talks!"

Honorable Mention - from Flo:

What did the elephant say to the naked man?
"But can you pick up peanuts with that?"



Anonymous said...

Great poem, Manuel! And yes, a celebration would have been in order. But listen to McCain y compañía: It wasn't a victory! We don't understand right? Well-said, Manuel! Enhorabuena. And Brava twice, Flo!! LC

Manuel Ramos said...

Gracias "LC" - hope all is well with you and that you are having a happy, joyous holiday.