portion of the artwork for Tim Tomlinson's poem

Fuck the Troops
Tim Tomlinson

Sometimes I marvel at these tools my nails,
the way they scratch residues of glue from price
stickers on books and expose the glossy
jacket beneath.

Sometimes I cut the same nails with an exasperation
that borders on animosity as if my nails
are an affliction, as if my nails never
even assisted

in the removal of residual glue
from book jackets. This ambivalence
characterizes my relationship to
my body, my self

and these insights characterize the nature
of my thoughts in airports waiting for boarding
to commence, waiting for the cessation of PA

and the droning of Anderson Cooper or
Maria Bartiromo from flat TV screens
tuned into CNN, the first name in snooze,
to desist.

Here’s another airport insight: in how many
American poems has Anderson Cooper
appeared? Even if it’s one, or one more than this,
my own (if you’ll

allow, at least for the space of this insight,
that this is indeed a poem, apologies,
of course, to Li and Edgar Allen Po(e)),
even as I say,

if it’s only one, could there be a clearer
indication of the decline of American
letters? This generation, and the last, my
nails or no,

has grown up without the examples
of Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster—
these are serious losses. Losses that drive
me in airports

and elsewhere to despair the state of my
nation, its youth, and my nails. Yet another
insight: I say “despair the state of my
nation” from which

one might infer a sense of concern, even
love, for my nation. This would be a misimpression
logically deduced from the uncontrolled

of my imprecise language, for which I
apologize. I do not love my nation—
never have. Go back fifty years or longer
even and you

will find no record of expression or imprint
of feeling of love for this goddamn hellhole
and that is why when I am in America
I spend as much

time as I can in airports having insights
about my nails while waiting to get the fuck
out. It’s also why I call this one “Fuck the Troops.”
Yeah, fuck ’em—

what do I give a shit about the troops? Or
the heroes, or the first goddamn responders?
Fuck them all. Or put it another way: care
for them as much

as Washington does, and here I’m not talking
about the generals. Oh don’t I know we
care about them, wiping their ass with velour
and cotton candy.

No, I’m talking about the troops, the grunts,
the slobs flipping burgers one day, getting blown
to bits the next. Let’s care for them as much as
the Secretary

of Defense cares, or as much as both houses
of congress care, as much as the Teabaggers
care about them or me and my goddamn nails,
now boarding.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 29 | Summer 2010