I am sure that you, like I, am numbed by the carnage that hits the human stage on what seems, now, to be an almost daily basis. We are faced with the unhinged who have easy access to guns, a seemingly American phenomenon. (The statistic I heard yesterday was that the United States, with around 4 or 5% of the world population, own 40% of the world’s gun!). We have terrorists bombing Paris, Beirut, Cairo, etc. etc. We lived through Columbine, Newtown and countless others. And now San Bernadino. And, throughout it all, we mourn and moan and then life seems to go on, at least until the next tragedy hits.
I, as a Muslim, am doubly aggrieved, for in addition to the mourning, I have to endure the backlash created by the Trumpets who trumpet their way through a phony election, espousing yet more hatred, war and carnage. Tag them, they say, (should I suggest yellow?), round them up, put them in camps. Sound familiar? Have we not learned from history? Do we not remember the Nazis or what we, ourselves, did to the Japanese-Americans during WW II?
Just in time to ease my affliction comes No, Achilles (Waterwood Press), which arrived on my desk yesterday. Edited by the award-winning, Pulitzer Prize nominee James Adams, this anthology is a collection of 64 international poets from every corner of the globe and is a sequel to the critically acclaimed Against Agamemnon: War Poems, 2009.
“No, Achilles reminds us of the brutal realities that are the tragic commonplace of our world. Perhaps we should spend a day with it, a week, a month, a lifetime – until it reminds us of that moral imperative we too frequently forget: the suffering of others is our own.” – Randall Watson, Poet/Editor, Blue Lynx Prize Winner.
Or this, from the introduction by Peter Anderson:
“The poetry here has no truck with war as a clearcut issue of good and evil. Poem after poem in this anthology breaks us open to seeing intensely, inwardly, the pity and terror involved in direct confrontation with war and its effects. The point is to make such seeing unforgettable – hence the necessity of poetry, for poetry is the form that language takes for that which is not to be forgotten.”
Yes, I have a poem in this anthology, but that’s not the point. The point is that unless we do something to stop the senseless carnage that has become a daily part of our lives, our own Achilles heel — the intolerance and hatred that festers unabated in our world – may lead to our very destruction. But then, all things considered, that may not be a bad thing after all.