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Poem: A Thousand Nightmares and Still No Name

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A Thousand Nightmares and Still No Name

by Henry Porter

People can play a desperate shell game
and argue that you should count
just those who died in theater
or just those who died from hostile action
in a futile parlor game designed to avoid
our statistical appointment in Samarra.

One thousand dead soldiers
is as certain as the sunrise.
But the only flag lowered to half-staff
is the one you are looking at here.

That's no surprise.

We don't even have a name for the war we are fighting.

It used to be called the Global War on Terror.
They retired the label, but kept the war going.
It was briefly replaced with The Long Slog.
That didn't test well with focus groups
so they dropped names altogether
and just kept the war.

At first I thought it was odd
the war of many fronts had no popular name.
How do you market a product with no name?

Then something occurred to me.
The Hundred Years War.
It wasn't called the "Hundred Years War"
when they were fighting it.

Word on the street is
they are going to rebrand it
and try calling it New Dawn.
That's a hell of a name
for a never-ending nightmare.

George would be proud. George Orwell, that is.

But now it makes perfect sense
why the wars we are fighting
have no names.
They are not wars.
Wars end.

One thousand bodies.
Each one another nightmare.
How long beforewe wake up?
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For starters, I am not the Henry Porter who writes for the Observer in Britain. I'm a native New Yorker living in Maryland. I used to believe knowledge was power. Now I know knowledge translated into action is power.
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