viruses look like outer space

we are at war

i cannot listen anymore
if i hear one more person in a suit
who still gets their groceries
at the grocery store
spew it
about this moment
i am going to lose it



if this is war
we were there
long long before

if any of them
any :
knew anything about
we would not use it as metaphor

if any
with our limbs
and homes
fully intact
knew anything about war
we would know that
rations are not
the shelves being empty of almond milk

it flips and it slips and there is no gripping it
language in this time
a thing is not a thing just because both share some common emotional ground
war is not a metaphor
it either is or it is not
and if you are unsure
you have your answer

how to write about how one is sure that the use of war in the language of the government is inappropriate, misguided, dangerous, when one has not known war but is sure this is not it?
i can only write from the place of knowing that there are not landmines to step around
in my neighborhood.
we always stratify war. because here, war is always stratified. bombs explode outside of peoples houses. people are shot in front of the park and bodies are in the actual street. war comes to where people live. it is not just in a field or some vast expanse of uninhabited land. you leave to walk to a local store and it is not there anymore. war is when you find your whole foods in rubble, okay?
here i am stepping lightly. attempting to point to more general examples. since what
i know i have only read. here, graphic details seem irreverent, a violation to regurgitate the atrocities of others lived experiences in order to prop up my own writing. spend just a little time in this world and one will encounter either their own experiences or depictions and descriptions of war in a way that it becomes accessible to, maybe not know, but empathize with, to have an impression of, the weight and terror of war. the details are for those who were there to do what they want with. share them destroy them remember them burn them. whatever you need. i should not have to rely upon them as evidence to hold up my argument that violence against anyone is a problem. is painful. i should not need a gradient of violence to convince another of the toll of war.
it either is
or it isnt.

it is dangerous to pretend to understand, to manipulate the realities of war : gratuitous physical and psychological violence imposed by humans on other humans. the definition does not need to be expanded. it does not need more responsibility, that is plenty for one word to hold.

this is not to say that war does not exist on this land. war is how this nation came to be. currently, to point to a few but not all examples, war is perpetrated through the violence against land defenders, the withholding and poisoning of natural resources in targeted communities, the statistical probability of being injured or killed by a gun (official and unofficial, though the unofficial is a symptom of the official) that is sky high anywhere in this country and only increases with the melanin of your skin.
my house is ten blocks from the lot that once was the home of the MOVE black liberation group, who, while barricaded inside, were surrounded by over five hundred police officers in 1985, who threw teargas canisters into the inhabited home and eventually bombed by the city police. the resulting explosion and fire destroyed over sixty neighboring homes.
these are wars. the conditions of war. the suppressions of war.

there are some etymological paths that can lead the word war to the German root verwirren meaning "to confuse, perplex"
the daily rhetoric would imply that those with power in this country are indeed confused. the way they wind words is also confusing, the way that data and information are used
viruses are not even considered to be living. my little white blood cells are not soldiers okay. its just biology. its just a fact of the physical world, everything is some degree of porous. things pass in and out of our bodies intentionally and unintentionally, constantly. it feels strange and invasive, yes. but it does not feel personal.

what feels personal is inhaling poison from factories that were built near your home because the land there was not seen as occupied or inhabited, at least not by anyone who matters. what feels personal is when you cannot go to the doctor because you do not make enough money because your job is not considered valuable though you work just as much, as hard, as everyone else. ~ ~ ~ here i do not make the claim that "hard work" should necessitate access to healthcare, i am only repeating the logic of that belief in order to show its gaping holes ~ ~ ~ what feels personal is when you are a human who finds your ability to live in general wellness and peace is inhibited by systems and actions facilitated and supported by your fellow humans. when those fellow humans shrug and say that there is nothing they can do. that feels personal. war is not between persons and a microscopic body that defies definition in some necromancied grey-area between living and not living, that can fly up your nose on a gust of wind. war feels personal. war is personal, it is between persons and persons.

there is also, another avenue of meaning that i want to unpack but am not sure i can, here, now.
that is: how the venn diagram of war and virus since the introduction of biological weapons up to the moment of tactics under the umbrella of cyber attacks. this virus is literally and metaphorically a perfect offensive. it is an undetectable invader, biologically programmed (in relation to the realm it exists within, biological or digital) to find a way into a system in order to break it down; with no mind of its own, with no ulterior motive. the natural disposition of the virus is the ideal disposition, from the perspective of the nation-state, of the solider. even more ideally, the citizen.
science fiction pokes at this too, doubling the virus as character and literary device: a new form of intelligence seeking a host, a subliminal messaging. the human body loses individual identity to become a host for an extraterrestrial species, the human body loses individual identity to become a vessel for the ideological systems of society.

not to mention, viruses look like outer space.
What we know about the new virus behind a pneumonia outbreak in ...

so, i circle back around to this place where i question, are they confused? or do they understand, completely? is the only way to have a collective movement under the governance of the united states in the twenty-first century, by way of defensive language of fighting? is it a means of propaganda?

no: in that it is difficult for me to believe there is that kind of foresight, editing, and thought going into what flys out of the mouth of this "war time president."
yes: in that it is rooted in fear, which is always abundant, recession or not.

language has gotten lazy. i do not mean it has strayed from formal convention. fuck "proper" pronunciation and punctuation, as long as you give me a logic, a way of interpretation and translation that is formally congruent with what you are trying to communicate, i am in. the language of the internet, of "zoomers" is genius. the flexibility, the ingenuity of it, the willingness sound silly at first, in order to express the nuance of an idea, that is what language is about. finding new, more specific ways to describe something. and in a world where things are changing, taking forms that have never been seen before, we are going to be at a loss of how to explain, make sense of, and approach these shifts if culturally, there is no willingness to stretch and reshape language.
i mean it has gotten lazy as in it has become unwilling to examine itself, unwilling to change. so, to follow my own advice, i will revise and say, our language has gotten stubborn, complacent. it does us great disservice to allow it to slip, because it will slip into a coma. stay in a place of stasis while the world changes around it. become so removed that when it does pipe up, it is confusing.

there is no reason we cannot devise a word that is applicable to this situation.

maybe we need a word that is a noun and a verb, that is the active happening and the inanimate effect. a word that is the virus and also gives space to the breadth and gravity of how the virus moves, how we must deal with it, the noun, the virus, the pandemic.

is that too much to ask of a single word?

war seems to manage.