Dwight Gray brings home the ISIS beheading of journalist James Foley, and does so in a way that challenges cliche and oversimplification.
The Fear Mongers
This morning someone lost his head across
the globe, except the sun was setting there.
We watched it from the breakfast counter while
a waitress filled our cups. One marveled how
this masked marauder showed commitment
and wouldn’t it be swell if leaders here
committed to a course with half the zeal.
I thought I recognized a rock formation on
the screen, the spot the man in orange knelt.
I walked around that place or one just like it.
Another man spoke, he’d “never go quietly,”
and why we didn’t send an army in.
It made no sense. A man who wore a VFW hat,
The eyes on screen revealed nothing except
a cold psychotic stare, the picture took
me back to when I’d watch the black and whites.
Once, The Invisible Man was on, the shape
of man, but wrapped in bandages, with shades,
and when he peeled the layers off it gave
me chills. Some nights I’d lie awake and listen,
every subtle noise would make me call,
“Who’s there?” We’re wondering that now; the man-
shaped mask begins to follow us everywhere.
Outside the day is getting hot. The blood-
red moon that blazed above the diner’s roof
has all but faded. This morning walking in
we marveled in the quiet, then someone flipped
the idiot box on. Breakfast over and paid
the crew spills out. We’re making small talk to fill
the void, until we reach our separate cars.
Each one becomes suspicious, walking in
a man-shaped mask — unsure what lies beneath.
Editor’s Note: Dwight Gray is a regular contributor to our poetry section. Read his other poems here.
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Photo by Twentyfour Students/Flickr