[Editor's note: Please send this article by Frances Payne Adler, our new poetry editor, to all of your legislators.
--Rabbi Michael Lerner email@example.com]
"There are approximately 750 U.S. military base sites abroad in 80 foreign– "Drawdown: Improving U.S. and Global Security Through Military Base Closures Abroad."
countries and colonies."
David Vine, Patterson Deppen, Leah Bolger. Foreign Policy in Focus. Sept. 20, 2021.
Dear legislators in Capitol City, sweating in stone buildings this Session,
searching for cash and coins for clinics and coronary bypass machines,
for bandages and bedpans, searching inside books and briefs and file
cabinets. Surely you've looked everywhere, but what do I know? I'm just
a poet with my papers and pens, just a professor with my satchel and silly
books, just a former nurse from Canada with my starched cap and soft-soled
shoes. Have you checked the bills coming in for aircraft carriers and chemicals
for our bases in Colombia and Cuba, for gas masks and guns for our soldiers
in Greece, Kyrgyzstan, and Paraguay, for tanks and tracer bullets in Thailand,
and São Tomé e Principe? Have you asked why we're still buying barbed wire
and bayonets for our battalions in Bahrain and Britain? Or claymore mines
and missiles for our military in the Marianas and the United Arab Emirates?
What about the cost of nuclear intelligence for our navy in Norway and the
Netherlands? Or artillery for our armed forces in Egypt, Ecuador and Ethiopia,
in Japan, Djibouti, and Jordan, in Panama and in Puerto Rico, Spain and Saudi
Arabia, in Poland, Liberia and Italy? Can we talk about foreclosing the bases?
Funding defibrillators instead for families in Florida and Delaware. Buying syringes
and scalpels and stethoscopes for clinic staff in South Dakota and Colorado.
Pacemakers for elders with arrhythmia in Alabama and Alaska. Bicycles
and jogging institutes for Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa. Treadmill machines
and touring nutritionists for Utah, Texas, and Kentucky. But what do I know,
I'm just a poet with my papers and pens, just a person wondering why we're
buying bullets with our billions instead of seeking care for our millions
This poem was published in an earlier version on Foreign Policy in Focus, Washington, DC.
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Frances Payne Adler is the author of five poetry books and exhibitions, most recently, "Dare I Call You Cousin," about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She is the poetry editor of Tikkun and Professor Emerita and founder of the Creative Writing & Social Action Program at California State University Monterey Bay. In her earlier life, Adler was an emergency room nurse in Montreal.