Collateral Damage

by Gary Corseri

February 2005


We were sorry to hear the bombs that were meant

to fall on a home adjacent to yours

(and one more, down a block or two)

have lamentably ruined your daughterís wedding,

blowing her up in her new white dress,

along with the groom, and his mother and yours,

and several children and dogs and cats.


While every precaution is taken, of course,

even our smart bombs occasionally miss;

at which time, we sincerely convey

our deepest condolences in light of your loss.


Freedomís not easy, itís untidy, itís

simply better than anything else

we can ever imagine for you.


As a sign of our continuing interest

in your welfare and ours, we present you, tax free,

with this cashierís check for one hundred dollars.

(This is a humanitarian gesture only

and should not be construed as an admission

of guilt or responsibility.)

If you wish to acknowledge our kindness,

we will send embedded reporters to meet you

(try to look grateful and even understanding).


Further, if your surviving cousins seek work

amidst the rubble weíve made of your city,

there are several openings at the police academy

thanks to unexpectedly high absenteeism

(their loss, your gain) as a result of

a few lucky potshots from insurgents

who bear an uncanny resemblance

to your aforementioned cousins.


We assure you we are making every effort

to restore electricity, water, etc.,

missing since your liberation began.

Please be patient a little longer.

We have only your best interests at heart

and are endeavoring daily to impress on you

your need to completely believe this.



Gary Corseri has published 2 novels, 2 poetry collections, the Manifestations anthology [edited], and his work has appeared at CounterPunch, Common Dreams, Dissident Voice, Axis of Logic, The New York Times, Village Voice and elsewhere. His dramas have been presented at PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere.  He has taught at universities in the U.S. and Japan, and at prisons and public schools in the U.S.  He can be contacted at

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