At 22 I wasn’t much more than a playground
for ideas other people fed me.
I was three years away from even
being brave enough to explore my own identity.
It was years more before I stopped that navel gazing
and took a quick look outwards
and I’m still failing to come to terms with that at forty,
but you, at that age could gather the courage
and the words to say that as a solitary soldier
washed up in an army of macho war porn and murder
you wouldn’t stand for it,
as a loner in a theatre of torn up conventions,
of water-boarding, of torture,
you wouldn’t stay silent.
At twenty two, a kid, and right in the thick of things
you made it clear you hadn’t been fooled
by the all pervasive culture that says
there are times when it’s AOK to re-name humans
as nuts and bolt collateral.
Chelsea when they charged you in the military court
you made no Nuremberg excuses
of how someone made you do it,
and you didn’t spout on about flags or orders or duty
at twenty five you could condemn
an army for its war crimes for
its murders of civilians and children
and you could act on it despite the consequences
you could reclaim the meanings for us of words like courage and justice,
now that’s what I call service;
someday I hope your country (and ours!)
will grow up and deserve it
happy birthday Chelsea lets hope that
for your next one you’ll be free.
And P.S Edward Snowden, keep on running!
To Support Chelsea see http://www.chelseamanning.org
Sarah Clancy is The Bogmans Cannon People’s Poetry Champion