A dragon lives forever
But not so little boys
Puff the Magic Dragon
When I was in Vietnam we called the AC-130, or an earlier version, "Puff the Magic Dragon" because it magically appeared at night when the enemy attacked, shooting out steady streams of flame, vanquishing our enemies.
I'm sure that the Vietnamese children had another name for it, just as I'm sure that the children of Afghanistan will soon have another, less loveable name for it.
Randall Jarrell understood the tragic attempts of children to make sense of a war that makes no sense.
Come to the Stone ...
The child saw the bombers skate like stones across the fields
As he trudged down the ways the summer strewed
With its reluctant foliage; how many giants
Rose and peered down and vanished, by the road
The ants had littered with their crumbs and dead.
"That man is white and red like my clown doll,"
He says to his mother, who has gone away.
"I didn't cry, I didn't cry."
In the sky the planes are angry like the wind.
The people are punishing the people-why?
He answers easily, his foolish eyes
Brightening at that long simile, the world.
The angels sway above his story like balloons.
A child makes everything-except his death-a child's.
Come to the stone and tell me why I died.
Randall Jarrell The Complete Poems
Thirty years after Vietnam, I still am startled awake by distant noises at night. Sometimes lately when I am startled to awareness, I lay awake and worry about those children in Afghanistan.I worry about those who will not make it through the night, who will "come to the stone."
Most of all, though, I worry about those who will live on. How will they answer the question, "The people are punishing the people-why?"
And what will that answer mean to my grandson and his generation?
Some of the media, primarily the alternative media, have begun to ask these questions, too. Two of the best are Save the Children and AlterNet -- Living Up To My Beliefs -- For My Children And The Children of Afghanistan.
However, the media as a whole seems obsessed with showing fuzzy green-and-white lightshows of our air raids or sterile overhead shots of targets surgically removed by our missiles and bombs, ignoring or denying that any people live down there where those bombs come skipping in like giant rocks thrown by some angry god.