A War is Not a War

by Raymond Nat Turner

March, 2022

“Truth is the first casualty of war” 

—Phillip Snowden

Somewhere there’s bombing—

not where you are…

Somewhere there’s bombing—

maybe Kandahar?

Somewhere skies rain artillery shells nonstop. Night and

day—Day and night… Twisted, tortured rebar bones of

high-rises surrender as pulverized prisoners…Windows,

doors and floors are crushed with concrete dust and

debris on rubble-strewn streets—Slippery with blood,

brain and guts— Near scorched, Swiss-cheese cars…

Somewhere there’s shelling—

not where you are…

Somewhere there’s shelling—

maybe Côte d’Ivoire?

Somewhere haunting wailing and moaning punctuates

puzzles under shells of burnt-out buildings. Do empty

shoes and sandals—limbless torsos, decapitated bodies—

offer clues to where it is? Does viscosity of the blood in-

form us? What about bloody blankets, the bent blue bike,

Books and papers?

Is it Palestine? Yemen? Ukraine? Is it Tripoli, Kabul or 

Baghdad? Addis Ababa or Allepo? Any tips from the

rhythms and inflections of cries? Do rattling wheels of

Refugee luggage offer a clue?

Somewhere there’s killing—

not where you are

Somewhere there’s killing—

maybe Myanmar?

Call it an operation—non-invasive outpatient procedure—

Call unscheduled surgeries medical mishaps. Leave amputees

and decapitated patients for loved ones to mourn and the mass 

Gravediggers to bury…

Address Orwellian medicine men as Dr. Goebbels as they put 

patients on low-calorie diets of unknown knowns and known 


Call pre-op scrubbing the airwaves of  “Blowin’ In The Wind,”

“Peace Train,” “Imagine” infection control. Then declare:

“The Friendship Train’ ain’t runnin’—You’re either with us, or

you’re with the enemy—and truth will get you 15—instead of 

setting you free…”

A war is not a war—

It’s a Special Military Operation. Land Mass Amputation.

It’s Manifest Destiny. It’s a Desert Shield; a Desert Storm

for Enduring Freedom during Q2 through

Q4. And it’s not personal—it’s Business…

Our Saturday marches plant tiny seeds—small

stubborn possibilities. May we learn to cast our

lots with lunch bucket crowds. Remember the 

Essential ones? The ones who one day will say: 

“Enough! We, too, are ILWU Local 10—We refuse 

to lend magic of our hands to merchants of death! We

refuse to load and unload WMD!” And could that day

be the day body-armored workers join in; turning tools

with triggers on grifter generals/blood-lusting bosses?

Raymond Nat Turner, ‘The Town Crier,’ is a NYC poet and the artistic director of the stalwart JazzPoetry Ensemble, UpSurge.

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