December Poem

The Best Revenge

“On Thursday 7 July 2005 a series of four bomb attacks struck London’s public transport system. . . 56 people killed, 700 injured.”


By my annual October trip to London

I have buried the exploded British bodies

under Katrina’s casualties

But still can’t take the bus two kilometers

from Euston Station to St. Margaret’s Hotel

Suitcases too heavy to lift into a bus I tell myself

Losing my first private battle against terrorism

As I pull two suitcases and herd the third

down Upper Woburn Place

All the while awarding myself a walking ovation

for having flown the day after 9/11

Self importance goes worldwide at Tavistock Square

where a woman’s professional camera

equipment blocks the sidewalk

And leaning against a park fence

is a garden-sized plastic bag spilling bouquets

and the budding bloom of a young girl’s face

Her glossy paper smile gazing at the overcast sky

And I know instantly the sun hasn’t smiled

on her parents since the seventh of July

I don’t need to hear from the photojournalist

how Tornado Hussain lifted the roof

off a double-decker bus

How it twisted through the air

And set passengers down on nearby walls

in three-dimensional red globs

A movement from the school of Islamic abstract art

Later I stand in ambiguity

Body fixed by fear in front

of Russell Square’s tube window

Mind correlating the risk of a one-time ticket

with an economical week’s worth

Summoning courage to connect

with Brits passing me by

Who wear IRA history as casually as the scarves

relaxing around their necks

They buy their ways into the burial chamber below

Where another shrine waits

To remind us that retaliation can be as peaceful

as purchasing a public transit ticket

Previously published in Ellaraine’s collection of international poems,

Stroking David’s Leg, Foothills Publishing