RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—September 18

Mark Fogarty


To give her credit, Jessica Lynch said what all survivors
Say: If you’re looking for a hero, don’t look at me.
The Humvee driver, Lori Piestewa, there’s your hero.

Jessica Lynch got all the flash when we raided the hospital
To bust her out: pretty, blonde, fighting for Uncle Sam.
A little polish off the apple when the topless photos came out.
But I think someone who was captured can be a hero, too.
All soldiers take their shirts off on hot days.

I hate wars, but I don’t hate soldiers.

Technically the Hopi, where Piestewa’s people are from,
Doesn’t touch the United States. It is totally surrounded
By the Navajo Nation, both sovereign countries,
Though also part of the U.S. But Indian people
Are touched by something, some fierce love,
That makes them volunteer for our wars in huge numbers.

In the fog of war her convoy got lost. Piestewa drove the Humvee
At high speed, evading murdering fire
Until it was hit by a rocket grenade. Dying,
She was taken prisoner by the Iraqis,
Who declined to operate,
Buried her in a guilty grave behind the hospital.

Piestewa volunteered to serve after 9/11; she left two small children.
America must be great to be loved so well.


Lori Piestewa didn’t make the TV news much,
But she has never been forgotten.
The Hopi and the Navajo, unfriendly neighbors,
Came together to grieve her.

The Hopi is a high place.
I drove there once, from Tuba City on the Navajo,
Where Piestewa grew up in a trailer park, and now is honorably buried.
It is like riding into the sky.
Thin, dry air. Lots of sunshine. Old ways.
Their holy men are consulted on the important things.

So naming a high place after her makes sense.
Piestewa Peak used to be known as Squaw Peak.
Ugly word, it squawks and smears.
Its definition, close as I can tell, is cunt.
We name things Cunt Mountain in our ignorance.

Instead, there is something holy there,
Something more important than a bad desert war.
Lori Piestewa soldiers on against ugliness.

Piestewa Peak is located within the city limits of Phoenix. The latest remembrance of Lori Piestewa came at the 2018 Lori Piestewa Native American Games July 20-22 in Phoenix. Its honorary chair was Jessica Lynch, who frequently comes to events where Piestewa is honored.

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