I tell the four-time Iraq War vet, a sometimes shaky man,
That I was angry at the art opening.
About 100 viewers, stepping close to the paintings,
Stepping back from them.
The women, heels, perfume, new dresses, skirts,
The men, fresh haircuts, new shirts, pressed slacks,
Comfortable twilight for art:
Shrimp, cold cuts, cookies on tables,
Wine on side tables,
Upstairs and downstairs,
A grassy center of the brick building,
Varnished stairs, floors.
Of the 100, I knew that five – at the most –
Had done anything publicly to oppose the war,
The war on its tenth anniversary –
Same date as the art show.
They’d gone to the same art shows,
And the war continued,
Thousands of dead Iraqis and Americans,
Many thousands more wounded,
And uncounted ones, like the vet,
Left shaky, or much worse ….
The vet listened.
He wasn’t surprised.
“I’ve seen all that, all the time.
I don’t get mad like you.”
I tell him:
“Look at the war, for oil, for defense contractors,
For nothing, men sent, even if volunteers, horrible.”
But the smugness, smugness.
I walk home, walking it off.
Now night ….
Eugene “Gene” Novogrodsky, late March 2013