National Poetry Month Day 21: “War With Computers” by Jill McDonough


War with Computers

“We don’t make war with computers.”
—Captain Kirk in Star Trek, “A Taste of Armageddon,” 1966

Now we hover at 5000 feet. It’s not a fair
fight, but IEDs aren’t fair, either. We watch day and night.
We don’t make war with computers, though; we’re not there

yet, are we? When did we sign up for this? Where?
We sing God Bless America, thru the night with a light
from above,
hover at 5000 feet. It hardly seems fair

to the operators, the pilots: twelve hours in the chair,
home for breakfast, bed, then they watch someone else’s sunrise.
We don’t make war with computers. We’re not there

to see the strikes wipe humans out: sudden glare
on the screen, infrared blooming white and wide.
We hover at 5000 feet. It may not be fair,

but it’s hard to resist: Bin Laden, Bin Laden’s lair,
got made by our unmanned planes, in the mini fun-size.
It’s blood-cheap, war with computers: we’re not there.

Not really here, either, though. All of us are always everywhere:
work, home, faces lit by our phones. Killer apps fill the time.
We hover at 5000 feet. Apparently all’s fair
in our wars, say our computers. New Rule: we do what we want over there.

Jill McDonough

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →