A Decision Was Made


By Jill McDonough

A decision was made to fire a Hellfire missile.
It was fired
, Donald Rumsfeld said with his mouth,

his breath, on purpose, what he wants us to hear. We hear
what he does not want us to hear. The unknown unknowns,

the known et cetera. The missile was made, was named,
was fired. The women were raped, the people enslaved.

Blacks were slaves, I learned in school—French Broad Elementary,
the halls carpeted, the poor janitor always coming around

with some kind of powder to soak up the vomit, little kids always
getting sick. Why’d they do that? Who’d consent to such

a crappy life? No one taught me white people enslaved black ones. 
I learned rape prevention: take a whistle, don’t dress like a whore.

Not don’t rape anybody. Thanks, syntax. We don’t know who’s
on our kill lists not because they’re secret, or only in part; also

because nobody knows. The Guy in the White Truck Who Drives
Out to That Compound on Tuesdays, say. The Man Who Kicks the Goats. 

Indicators were there that there was something untoward
that we needed to make go away, Pentagon spokesman Stufflebeem said. 

Stufflebeam’s the kind of guy who’ll tell a girl he’s a widower to get
in her pants. Breast cancer. Damn shame. Nice country

you got here. Shame if anything happened to it. Make it disappear,
we tell people about our problems. Make it go away. I want him gone.  


Three-time Pushcart prize winner Jill McDonough directs Boston’s MFA program and 24PearlStreet, the Fine Arts Work Center online. Her books include Habeas Corpus and Where You Live; Alice James will publish Reaper (forthcoming 2017).

Photo credit: Josey Packard

Photo credit: Josey Packard