Even Samurais Write Poetry by Sydney Solis

My six-and-a-half-year-old son wanted to be a policeman for Halloween. But the monster-sized Halloween costume outlet store that I took him to was out of policeman costumes except for one that was missing the hat yet still cost twenty-five bucks. His second choice was the U.S. Army soldier fatigues. I thought back to the 5:30 p.m. newscasts about Iraq in which he said his favorite part was the fallen heroes. Young faces and life stories in thirty-seconds. The face of death this fall as we notice how so many old movie stars are dying this time of year, how much faster the yellow and red falling leaves are raining down upon us and the cooling earth as we pick out masks to laugh at death and gut the pumpkin into our own disguise. The fruits of summer off the withering vine to ease the tension of the decline, of our own death.

I was aghast about the uniform, considering that after his business went bankrupt last year, my son’s father committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart in front of a fireman. But I remembered America’s wars and I didn’t want to dampen my son’s self-esteem with my disapproval lest he become depressed as a teenager and become homicidal rather than military.

He picked out a gun. He picked the Uzi police gun. The salesman commented that he didn’t know police used Uzis and I said, I didn’t know that the Army used Tommy guns like the packaging illustrated. Then the saleslady at the checkout accidentally dropped the Uzi on the floor and broke its rat-a-tat-tat sound that would’ve made me insane eventually and thrown it across the room at some point, breaking it to stop the noise. Like my Aunt Ruthie did with my cousin Suzy’s pull-string Tom and Jerry doll that was given to me as a broken hand-me-down when I was a child visiting family in St. Louis one summer. Turns out it was the last Uzi, so the saleslady gave it to us for free and we bought the Tommy gun too.

At home my son watches the Tom and Jerry’s best chase scenes DVD that his father’s brother gave him and he laughs and laughs at teeth being smashed out of Tom like keys on a piano. Later he imitates Jerry who had dropped light bulbs that smashed like bombs on the kitchen floor and scared Tom to death. I worry, then reflect that the Bhagavad Gita was written for the warrior class, and samurais wrote poetry. I love poetry. I also love to stab Caesar in the silent safety of backstage. The tension released. Darkness assuaged. My drama complete as I surrender and exhale, shrinking toward the tomb.

During the school day, my little boy lays his costume out on the floor of his bedroom, feet facing the doorway. Like a soldier was melted by X-ray eyes. Only the shape of the cloth pants and shirt topped with the plastic meshed helmet reminds me a boy was once there. At night, my little boy wears the costume to sleep, and I lie beside him. Like the mother on the AOL news today who died of a broken heart after her son was killed in Iraq. I wonder if it’s me. I wonder if it’s me.

Sydney Solis is a performing, literary and visual artist, activist and teacher of yoga. Her pioneering kids yoga program Storytime Yoga® and its award-winning media are known world-wide.