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They're Called Mosquitoes

August 25, 2013|Amy Uyematsu
  • Los Angeles Times readers submitted their views in verse for a feature dedicated to opinion poetry.
Los Angeles Times readers submitted their views in verse for a feature dedicated… (Anthony Russo / For The Times…)

This morning the sound of a helicopter wakes me.

It hovers in the sky over a park two blocks away.

Its blades chop out a menacing hum,

warning that police are watching every move below.

I'm reminded of a long-ago apartment near La Brea —

at night we'd have to close our curtains to keep

the searchlights from peering in.

But I have only read and watched news reports

about the drones my country sends overseas.

In our war against terror, we can destroy

military targets, mosques, schools, homes

remotely, the American shooters aiming

from computers that make enemy assault

as easy as the latest high-tech video game.

Spying on the daily movements of a militant,

they watch as he talks to his wife, plays ball

with his children, and though continents apart,

this spying more intimate than swooping down

on unknowns from a fighter jet.

And I wonder if these drones are silent

or true to the word "drone" —

as the verb to drone on

in a dull and low monotonous moan.

The Pakistanis being terrorized by these pilotless,

propeller-driven aircraft call them "mosquitoes,"

invading their villages at any hour. A Waziristan

tribesman says, "Anybody who has been

listening to the buzzing all through the day

usually can't sleep at night."

The pesky sound of my local helicopter returns

while I think about what this government condones --

drones, unlawful detention, torture. Even

the president I voted for approves.

Unable to deafen the chopper's whirring,

I hear the growing din of American drones,

closing in on the next target, wondering

who is the real suspect population,

while these killer mosquitoes won't go away.

The author is a Los Angeles poet.

Read more: Opinion poetry by Times readers


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