Friday, October 5, 2012

Poem of the Week: Merna Hecht

  Merna Hecht
Special Effects   
In tribute to Abdi Sami, filmmaker, peacemaker, and poet; July 22, 2012, Aurora, CO, Batman movie, the morning after

This morning I am remembering you, how as honored guest
you talked with my students who had recently arrived in America
from refugee camps where borders are stacked with blood and bullets.

Remembering when you told them you were a founder
of Dream Quest, winning academy awards for special effects,
how their faces remained blank,
until you spoke of the film you made
in the land of your birthplace, Iran,
after the earthquake, and a man you met in a cemetery,
how with no special effects, but because of grief
he looked older than the crumbled stone, the rubble,
how the two of you wept together.

This morning you and I would weep together
because last night in America, with its monstrous appetite
for special effects and its hairline border crossings
between reality and horror, thirty minutes into the latest blockbuster,
a young man with gas mask, explosives
and loaded guns went on a killing tirade.

My gentle friend, you loved to create
films daring with special effects, but if I could reach for you
on the other side, I know you would stand with me
when the young men and women who came here as you once did
from where war raged, would ask us to explain what happened
in real time, in real life, after midnight, in America, and what would we tell them?

I have no words, no story, to meet the moment.
I am less a stranger to your untimely death,
or an imagined place where the dead might drift,
or a shot zooming on a war-torn border,
than familiar to my own country. I am drowning in the deep
pools of permission given by the big money, the big screen, the big guns,
the President and the pundits who will not say the dark night has risen
even as the semi automatic was fired and the hair dyed red
and the Joker lost his mind, and for several moments
no one was certain where stood the border between the shadow and the light.

-Merna Hecht  

Used by permission.

Merna Hecht is a poet, nationally recognized storyteller and teaching artist. Her work has appeared in Kaleidoscope, Out of Line, Drash: Northwest Mosaic, Teachers & Writers Collaborative Magazine, among others. She has received a National Storytelling Network Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling and a National Storytelling Community Service award. She teaches art and social justice classes at the University of WA, Tacoma and directs the Stories of Arrival Youth Voices Poetry project with refugee and immigrant high school students in Tukwila, WA. She has just completed a a book about using storytelling and poetry with children and teens who are grieving life changing losses.    
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