Dead Grandmothers and clusterbombs.
Tuesday 2pm: I just got in and the message box was full of those ominous you need to call us as soon as you get this voices. You know the ones. The kind where the people on the other end are saying stuff like "You've probably been expecting this for awhile" and "It's nothing too surprising but" and never actually getting around to what horrible news awaits. It's my 77 year old grandmother dying a quick death 600 miles away. Time to go.
Tuesday 10pm: We just arrived In Kentucky under the pale glow of the West Virginia moon. The mountains seem alive casting long, haunting shadows dancing in the night. We're here at this gas station in the toxin-filled air of Ashland, it's for real now. My grandmother has passed into the afterworld, whatever that means. Still another three hours to my father's house.
Wednesday 2:30 am: Alright I gotta sleep now. This is all too surreal. Her clothes and belongings still scattered about the room next to us. My father's unbelievably composed now that she's "returning home" and all. I lay here in the bed with the lights on waiting for Yvonne, scared to death of the horror of the dark. Must catch some winks.
Wednesday 9am: Lots of voices fill the air. I can distinguish Uncle Frank and that sure sounds like Aunt Honey. There's Mary, Kevin, Trena, Jenny from next door and my dad holding all down. The phone's ringing every few minutes. Cousins, second cousins, folks from church, folks outta the past, they're all on the other line. Collectively I can hear and feel all of their grieving pressing down upon this house where last she dwelled. Her life is already being picked through and picked apart. Lots of loose details to be worked out. Nothing to do but wait.
Wednesday 10pm: My eyes are filled with rage. My heart is filled with rage. My mind is filled with rage. I fucking hate this sick, psychopathic maniac on the tv every bit as much as the sick, psychopathic maniac he's getting ready to attack. Why can't we just put the two of them in a no holds barred steel cage match until they beat each other senseless and hopefully shoot one another in the head simultaneously.
Thursday 3am: The buzz of the tv keeps awakening us every half hour or so. Despite the voices of tens of millions of us around the world and a hope that somehow, some way this day would be averted the bombs are falling now. The sensationalism is already in overdrive with talks of regime change and liberation of the Iraqi people. The patriotism is already swelling to a fevered pitch. My mind is flooded with images of cluster bombs and dead grandmothers, one big night long nightmare.
Thursday 1pm: I'm surrounded now by my twenty cousins, their husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, children, children everywhere I look. At least a couple of dozen of them. Eyes wide with hope and love and dreams for a better world somewhere out there. I haven't seen some of these faces in five to ten years. We only come together for these sort of things anymore.
Thursday 5pm: It's the day after the day that we worked the last six months to avoid. It's too late now. War is on and countless millions are out in rage and defiance all over the globe at this very moment. Half a million throughout Spain, 100,000 in England, massive rioting in Cairo, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan. Tens of thousands shutting down San Francisco, NYC, Chicago, Philly. 100 of my rain soaked friends running through downtown Richmond. Here in Louisville the speaker's encouraging us to look up amongst the glass and steel structures and imagine fire and blood falling from the sky. Baghdad, New York; fire and blood and death stings all the same. Too much.
Friday 12:30pm: Laura, Kevin and I are here In the second row. The one right behind my father and his siblings. The preacher has delivered his address, the music is playing, tears everywhere. My stepbrother's in hysterics. People are embracing one another with all they have. Final respects are being paid, her body cold and lifeless five feet away. There's my dad, stronger than all. Quick with a joke, a smile, a word of encouragement, a warm hug, a kiss on the cheek. I've never seen him in this element, I feel closer to him than I ever have as I sob in his arms having no words that seem appropriate.
Saturday 5pm: We're crossing back into Virginia and the newscasts rattle me out of the sleep I feel like I've been in all day, even though I'm currently driving. Death behind, death on the radio, death on the highway, I'm gonna pull over and let Yvonne drive now.
Sunday 4pm: Back in Richmond and I've never seen Monroe Park look like this. The riot cops just got out of their busses and are lining up and down Laurel Street. I'm scouring the corners of the park on my bike soaking it all in. There's a buzz and electricity in the air that comes around once a decade around here. There's Carol with her sister, Tom Cleary the official translator of the march, I see some of my neighbors, Allyssa and Bella, fellow S&L columnist Mike Straight lying over there. The action is everywhere as the numbers swell to 2, 3, maybe 4,000.
Sunday 7pm: Although the main march is over there are still 500 of us out here on Broad. Folks from the bus stops and neighborhoods are joining in now. We're sprinting, we're screaming with all we have, we're taking back our city even if for just the night and the smell of righteous indignation fills the air. One year ago I interviewed my grandmother sensing the end was near. She told me she doesn't have a single regret in her life and wouldn't change a thing. As we're out on the streets in rage I can't help but think of my grandmother's words. I hope as I lay on my death bed I can say the same thing. Life ends in dramatic and sudden ways every day. Someone jumps off of a bridge, someone breathes their last breath free of the oxygen machine, a child walks to a market and has a two ton bomb take their life in a second. Regret can take us over and carry us to unfathomable depths. Let's get to it and stop this fucking beast of a country we live in before we wake up dead tomorrow, full of regrets. Greg.
For the latest copy of My zine Complete Control please send $2 (cash only) to PO Box 5021 • Richmond, VA. 23220. Direct all correspondence likewise. If you're on the net check out the great Richmond Indymedia sight.
(contact info from 2003)