Art Opening

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.

Serious observers.

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.

Live music.

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,

Same concerts,

Same meals,

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.”

He repeats,

“Relax, relax.”

But the smugness, smugness.

I walk home, walking it off.

Now night ….

Eugene “Gene” Novogrodsky, late March 2013

Author: Gene Novogrodsky

Eugene “Gene” Novogrodsky, a Brownsville resident for nearly three decades, writes North American border slices, from eastern Canada to central Mexico, and in between. He is one of the founders of the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center Writers Forum in San Benito. He sometimes participates with the informal Resaca Writers Group in Brownsville. He prefers, however, to read to two or three attentive listeners – when asked!


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