The brain has a fuse. After years of threat and terror, the fuse blows, leaving a scar behind, a charred little plug of matter, once animated tissue. It can make a person mean. The bombs hang over our heads, almost within view. They cast their shadow over all our choices, smart bombs, in search of a policy. From the rooftops we make out, just beyond the harbor, smudges on the horizon, the ships that deliver the missiles that would deliver us. We live with our heads inside the cannon. The outlook is dark. Every year or so we hear the rumble of guns massing against us. When the international cameras arrive, the ambassador vaults the secretary-general and tramples the prime minister to be first to the podium to denounce us. Just before the elections (everyone else’s; we don’t believe in elections), surgical strikes cripple our ability to make spermicidal jelly. Meanwhile, the blockades turn back dangerous baby formula from our ports. There are more of us every year, and we’re sicker. And tireder. Yes, we see the guns. We hear the planes in the no-fly zone. We thumb our noses at the guns. They move closer, they move away, they blast holes in the sand. Meanwhile another generation blows its fuse. Our children don’t know what it is to live without the threat of imminent annihilation. On the other hand, they’re not tormented by nostalgia. There’s no going back for us. We would sooner give our wives what they really want than capitulate to the demands of the world. The world can take what we offer or kill us. We don’t divorce and the threat of the big strike means nothing to us any more. You can kill us, you may have to, but you’d better kill us all.

Copyright © 1999-2006 David Hodges