Skip to main content

Collateral Damage

Gary Corseri: We were sorry to hear the bombs that were meant to fall on a home adjacent to yours (and one more, down a block or two) have lamentably ruined your daughter’s wedding, blowing her up in her new white dress, along with the groom, and his mother and yours, and several children and dogs and cats.

Author’s Note: The recent attack on the Doctors Without Borders’ hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, followed quickly by US politicians, generals and media strange non-apologies and excuses, pointing their errant fingers elsewhere…, regrettably put me in mind of another incident, early in this seemingly endless Afghan War, where the term “collateral damage” had also been blithely applied to a massacre. I wrote the following at that time, and sadly find it still applicable now.

Collateral Damage

We were sorry to hear the bombs that were meant
to fall on a home adjacent to yours
(and one more, down a block or two)
have lamentably ruined your daughter’s wedding,
blowing her up in her new white dress,
along with the groom, and his mother and yours,
and several children and dogs and cats.

While every precaution is taken, of course,
even our smart bombs occasionally miss;
at which time, we sincerely convey
our deepest condolences in light of your loss.

Freedom’s not easy, it’s untidy, it’s
simply better than anything else
we can ever imagine for you.

Recommended for You

As a sign of our continuing interest
in your welfare and ours, we present you, tax free,
with this cashier’s check for one hundred dollars.
(This is a humanitarian gesture only
and should not be construed as an admission
of guilt or responsibility.)
If you wish to acknowledge our kindness,
we will send embedded reporters to meet you
(try to look grateful and even understanding).

Further, if your surviving cousins seek work
amidst the rubble we’ve made of your city,
there are several openings at the police academy
thanks to unexpectedly high absenteeism
(their loss, your gain) as a result of
a few lucky potshots from insurgents
who bear an uncanny resemblance
to your aforementioned cousins.

We assure you we are making every effort
to restore electricity, water, etc.,
missing since your liberation began.
Please be patient a little longer.
We have only your best interests at heart
and are endeavoring daily to impress on you
your need to completely believe this.

Gary Corseri

(first posted at newdemocracyworld.org, 2005)