The TV glows green like the obsolete computer in the attic
blurred shapes that could be buildings or simply the geometry of electrons
bright circles of lens flare as accents
an abstract electronic image they say is Baghdad.
I don’t know Baghdad, don’t know where the missiles are falling
I don’t know which buildings are burning, which roads are blocked
I don’t know Baghdad, but I do know Albany.
They say the missiles are launched from ships 200 miles away
they say they land with “amazing accuracy.”
There could be ships in New York harbor
firing Cruise missiles at the Empire State Plaza, at the Governor’s Mansion on Eagle St.
200 Cruise missiles raining down on Albany tonight
with “amazing accuracy”
taking out Lark St., the Bookstore, the Flower Shop,
Elissa Halloran’s gone up in smoke
Ben & Jerry’s a sea of mush
Bombers’ Burritos blasted to bits by its namesakes.
With amazing accuracy one missile misses by only 1%
takes out my house, rattles the windows of St. Peter’s Hospital.
Wounded shopkeepers and teachers, their children bleeding
show up at Albany Medical Center; the halls are jammed
with improvised beds; a team of doctors and nurses
die in an explosion in the parking lot.
The sound of planes overhead, the trucks on New Scotland Ave.
are the invading army, blasting into Albany.
A young mother driving home from work is shot
by nervous tankers as she drives across the Normanskill Bridge.
on Willett St. the 1st Presbyterian Church is in ruins
downtown St. Mary’s Church burns, City Hall collapses.
Galleries burn, paintings and photographs melt with the wallpaper
no poetry can be heard on Lark St., or Hudson Ave., or North Pearl.
And in Watervliet the homes of laborers and postal workers, of waitresses
and truck drivers are flattened when the Arsenal is hit
(the enemy says it was a cynical and evil move to place a military facility there).
The electricity stops, the water fails, the Price Choppers and
Hannafords are looted, Mobil & Hess stations are on fire
Dunkin’ Donuts a pile of plastic and bricks
next to the broken bottles of what was once Justin’s.
And School 19, where citizens sought refuge from their burned houses
is mistaken for a command center and hit by a bunker buster.
I watch TV, watch a city destroyed by an invading army
it could be Baghdad, or Basra
it could be Saigon, or Leningrad
I don’t know Baghdad
but I do know Albany.
And it’s burning.
Dan Wilcox is the host of the open mic at Lark Street Bookshop in Albany, N.Y. on the third Thursday of each month and is a member of the poetry performance group “3 Guys from Albany.” As a photographer, he claims to have the world’s largest collection of photos of unknown poets. He has been a featured reader at all the important poetry venues in the Capital District & throughout the Hudson Valley and is an active member of Veterans for Peace.
He also publishes poetry under the imprint, A.P.D. (albany’s poetic device, another pleasant day, etc.), the alternative press for Albany’s poets, including such poets as Anthony Bernini, Rachel Zitomer, Don Levy, and Dina Pearlman. His own poems have been published in Out of the Catskills, The Second Word Thursday Anthology, We Speak for Peace, Chronogram, in numerous small press journals and anthologies, and on the internet, and he was a finalist for the 1998 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards.