Terrorist Cells

o-BOSTON-MAGAZINE-570
Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 5.40.50 PM
Written in celebration of the capture of the Boston Marathon Bomber 4/19/13
 Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 5.40.50 PM

It starts off as a normal cell
no one knows why
it goes awry
a foreign government
a religious ideology

It affects nearby cells
a brother
a mother
no one knows why
the cell multiplies
becomes disordered

Strikes out on its own
remains silent for awhile—
undetected—
then breaks into a big tumor of
explosion
destroys whoever happens to be
standing nearby
a child
a woman
a student

The system ratchets into high alert
sends out notification so
aberrant cells are recognized.

T-cells spring into action—
the ATF, JTTF, FBI—
other cells go into lockdown.

Humvees and cruisers crowd in
and surround them—
isolate them from other cells.

A single cell lies sheltered in a boat
beneath winter plastic.
There’s gunfire . . .
an exchange.
All’s quiet.
Stealth forces creep in
behind house corners and trees
—flashbangs are hurled.
The backyard becomes a battlefield.
A helicopter overhead penetrates the
shrink-wrap with
infrared rays.
Movement is detected
the cell is alive, but maimed . . .
Other cells move in and surround it.
It’s tackled to the ground.
Handcuffed.
Stuffed into an ambulance
and shipped off to Beth Israel Deaconess—
the Cancer Center—
where aberrant cells are wrestled to the ground
zapped with friendly fire . . .
transformed
to make way for strong,
healthy new cells to grow in their place.

Published in the Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center 20th Celebration of Life Book of Writings (2013)

This poem was written 4/19/13, the evening the surviving Boston marathon bomber was captured. I was living just a few blocks away from the Tsaernaev family apartment. We had been gripped by CNN all day. We watched the police on TV, as they searched the nearby streets. Like everyone else in Cambridge, we had been in lock-down all day.