Today is the 20th anniversary of the death of the Australian poet John Forbes.
Spent tracer flecks Baghdad’s
bright video game sky
as I curl up with the war
in lieu of you, whose letter
lets me know my poems show
how unhappy I can be. Perhaps.
But what they don’t show, until
now, is how at ease I can be
with military technology: e.g.
watching their feu d’esprit I classify
the sounds of the Iraqi AA — the
thump of the 85 mil, the throaty
chatter of the quad ZSU 23.
Our precision guided weapons
make the horizon flash & glow
but nothing I can do makes you
want me. Instead I watch the west
do what the west does best
& know, obscurely, as I go to bed
all this is being staged for me.
From Meanjin, Vol. 50, No. 2/3, Winter-Spring 1991
Read Kath Kenny’s memoir about her friendship with John Forbes from the Summer 2016 edition here.