Jacket 32 — April 2007        link Jacket 32 Contents page        link Jacket Homepage

Michael Kelleher

Number Crunch


Before the storm and after still
There was the war, the endless war,
And from my morning chair
I’d daily read the numbers of the dead
From my laptop computer
Connected wirelessly to the Worldwide Web
Where one could see the numbers unadorned
By ideology of any kind,
Numbers totaled at the bottom of the page
One upon another
In convenient columns measuring
The average number of deaths per day,
And I’d become accustomed to
Comparing totals of the dead in other wars
To totals of the dead in this one
And then comparing those
To totals of the dead from various
Natural and/or man-made disasters
Occurring at intervals throughout the year,
And finding in the absence of opinion
These numbers meant nothing,
Either in themselves or in relation to
One another, except
Insofar as they brought home
The ineluctable fact of death, repeated
Over and over, in case one should forget,
Which I rarely did, except to say
I wished the fucking war would end
So I could count on something else.