The Day Bin Laden Died

I have never been able to write a poem about
September 11, 2001, a day remembered
more than any other in my 8th grade year.
I’ve tried to join the body of American work
representing how scared and pissed off we were,
but the words failed me, too short breathed
from the suckerpunch we suffered. Every attempt
at a 9/11 poem is a blur, just like every poem
or song or essay or speech – a bunch of
fancy words and chanting bullshit – has been
a blur to me. But that day never has been.
And now, Osama Bin Laden is dead, shot twice
by a Navy SEAL in a military operation
that my mind wants to questions but my gut
wants to vomit relief. And kids my age took
to the streets in celebration of a death.
The death of the boogeyman of the younger
generation, the news said, the boogeyman
of my generation. And somebody stronger
and smarter than me went into my closet
in a Pakistani city and took care of that
son of a bitch once and for all. I watched
the celebration around me as I walked
home from work, and I remember all the times
I’ve taken my shoes off to get on an airplane.
I remember dozens of prisoners tortured
in Guantanamo Bay because they hail from
the same country as Osama Bin laden.
I hail from the same country as George Ryan,
Jim Jones, and Ted Kaczynski, you should take
me to jail, too. But most of all, I remember
the number of times I’ve been called a traitor
because I try to be a pacifist. Try, and often fail.
And I can’t help but wonder if he’s already won.

by James Patrick Schmidt

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