Loud and Clear

On February 26th, 2024, Aaron Bushnell self-immolated on the steps of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. The 25-year-old active-duty member of the Air Force committed this extreme form of protest in response to the ongoing genocide of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. While engulfed in flames, he stated that he “will no longer be complicit in genocide.” –AP News 

Nobody wants to be woken up
from the comfort of their conceived distance,
especially not by an ear-piercing mourning caw.
But here I sit, listening to Aaron Bushnell gift his life.
The audio alone churns my stomach and sets fire
to its swirling acid, brewing guttural images I vomit up. 

His screams spread flames,
scorching my—our—throats with
squawks of freedom louder
than the commotion of daily life
sheltering us in tempered privilege.
A cry clearer than the water trying to douse
his—our—fiery outrage. 

Bits of Aaron’s scorched military uniform
have melded to his skin,
staining his death with scars and sins
of the blind loyalty he once had
shared with the officer aiming the gun.
Ears still plugged by dollar bills,
thirst still quenched by America’s manifests. 

Tears don’t touch
what stares down the barrel
at Bushnell’s burning body.
He—they—claim domination, hollering
commands to kneel on crispy blackened flesh,
to bow to an authority that dries blood soaked hands
with clothes stripped from the conquered.  

One set of eyes sear through
the rippling heat, radiating Gaza’s gaze,
bewildering opposing eyes with sacrificial
support. He can only threaten from afar,
not willing to get too close,
not wanting to
burn with us. 

Their reign of hate will not ruin
such a stark parade of humanity.
Every anguished shriek burns
another hole in their ignorant silence;
those who’ve had the same fire
in their hearts hear the calls coming through.
Don’t let the flickering flame of humanity
burn out.