Poetry and the American Voice

Born into suburbia, and my parents had a hot tub made of redwood
California redwood, in a suburb of Santa Barbara, California
With palm trees growing down by the beach,
   and sunny and warm in winter
It's not a place knowing war, it's got homes of movie stars
   in the dry yellow-brown hills

And grew up straight and brown and innocent,
   sunny and warm and middle class privileged,
My mind not a place knowing war, with only a memory of a long black wall
A wall in Washington, D.C., where we went with my dad and looked up
   a name he used to know
With some notions of SCUD missiles glowing on the television
Streaming across the television night like oversized roman candles
   in night-goggle green

And grew my mind and found words a solace, weaving pictures in my mind
Learning to say what I thought, learning to write the things that filled me
Like the waves on the ocean, the palm trees and the waves,
   like the dry yellow-brown hills, soft as breasts,
   the scent of chaparral
The things I knew growing up in California, the warmth

But what good if I can't use them to weave
   a blanket
If blankets could protect from bombs like they protect children
   from the nightmare monsters hovering out in the darkness
If words could turn real monsters into fading dreams
My words won't save anyone, I don't know war, I can't argue against it
   I just know I don't want to know what it means to know.