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How a Car Bomb Stopped a War
by Henry Howard

The images of flaming horror
Intruded as breaking news
Upon a tawdry scandal
Of sex and politics.

The television screens awakened
The deadened nerves
Of a world grown desensitized
To tragedy light-years from home.

Electronic eyes
Cast harsh, blue-white visions
Of a car, twisted into improbable shapes
By the force of the bomb
It had carried;

Shops ablaze like flaming torches;
Half-melted glass,
Glittering and littering the sidewalk;
Bodies charred like steak,
Scattered like dry leaves throughout the street.

The car bomb went off
In a town few had heard of,
But which suddenly became a household name:
Omargh, Northern Ireland,
A half-country long a household name for pain.

The horror was mutual:
The dead were English and Irish alike,
Men, women and children,
The old and the young,
28 in all.

The accusations began
Before the flames had died,
But this time they were short-lived.
The IRA swore they had nothing to do with it,
And promised their swiftest help.
The British, long their most implacable foe,
Accepted their offer, and called a truce.


Within days, the dead were mourned
And laid to rest.
But instead of returning to hate and evil,
The leaders of both sides
Met to bury the hatchet as well.
When horror is shared,
And tears are truly shed for the innocent,
Then the dead become the leaders.

The bombing at Omargh
Led to the first real peace conference,
And a pledge to share power
Over what could not yet be made whole
Or independent.

Ireland remained a house divided,
But a vicious car bomb ended the war
And brought neighbors and enemies
Under one roof forever.

On March 16, 2015 @ 7pm, Henry will be reading this
poem at Quill and Parchment's Spoken Word Poetry Event
@ Vaucluse Lounge in the Charlie Chaplin
House: 8210 Sunset Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90046


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