A Tactical Error


That’s what they called it—
a technical error, a “mistake,”
the bombs that went astray
during an attack in Sanaa,
capital of Yemen.

They were targeting rebels
in a crowded neighborhood
when they dropped their load
on the house where Buthaina lived
with her parents and siblings.

A child of 4 or 5
now homeless and alone,
her face profoundly bruised,
her eyes too swollen to open,

she is the only one still living
after the bombs blasted open her little life,
blew away the dreams of her childhood,
the sweetness that once was hers
in the protective embrace of her family.

The bombs fell without pity, without remorse, without mercy,
with one purpose in their brief existence—to inflict
the greatest possible pain.

The bombardment and blockade of Yemen
has pushed the country toward famine,
put one million children at risk of cholera,
killed thousands and displaced over 3 million people,

and still we arm the killers
with made-in-America munitions
bearing the sign of Boeing or Raytheon
or some other blood-stained weapons’ maker.

Dear Buthaina, when I look at you,
I know there is nothing I can do
to heal what are truly incomprehensible wounds
too deep to ever close no matter how many tears fall
from your bruised and bloodied eyes.

Still, if I were there with you,
I would hold you in my arms
and through my most tender embrace
offer you what no president or potentate could ever do
with all their armies, their weapons, their boiling patriotic lust.

I would give you my love, my compassion, my grief
not for you alone but for all those who suffer the evils of war,
the pain of hunger, the deep unrelenting loneliness that comes
when everything we love and depend upon
is taken away, never to be given back.

*On August 25, 2017, the U.S. supported, Saudi-led coalition bombed an apartment in Sanaa, Yemen “by mistake,” according to a statement from the coalition. Buthaina was the only survivor

George Capaccio is a writer and activist living in Arlington, MA. During the years of U.S.- and UK-enforced sanctions against Iraq, he traveled there numerous times, bringing in banned items, befriending families in Baghdad, and deepening his understanding of how the sanctions were impacting civilians. His email is [email protected] He welcomes comments and invites readers to visit his website: www.georgecapaccio.com


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