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Winter 2006

Fall 2005

State of the Union
Jack McGuane

In the House Gallery
a gold star mother
rises to accept
the applause of the assembly
on behalf of her son
who can no longer rise
in his own behalf.
In the House Gallery
another gold star mother,
begging them to please,
please stop the killing,
is arrested for her crime.
We soon receive news
of four more dead
in a roadside bombing,
and two more dead
in a police action
and three more dead
in miscellaneous incidents
of no apparent consequence.
It hardly seems worth
being born, growing up,
playing sports, leading cheers,
kissing sweethearts,
starting families -
if all it comes to is
death in your twenty-second year
on some road to nowhere
in some place you'd never be
unless someone insisted
it's your patriotic obligation
to the government
that will exploit your mother
as long as she's quiet,
or throw her in jail
if she opens her mouth to object.