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Some thoughts on “The War Reporter Paul Watson Prefigures the End” by Dan O’Brien

Tom de Freston Dan O'Brien

Sometimes Paul will mention the possibility of his getting kidnapped, tortured, executed, with a kind of gallows humor. Naturally I want to know, at least imagine, what’s behind the joke. Writing this poem is a way of looking at death—something Paul Watson does all the time, as Tom de Freston’s paintings do, too. But it’s something most of us don’t do easily, because it’s unseemly, unsettling, often unimaginable.

Maybe this is a poet’s attempt at journalism: graphic, detailed, trying to tell a kind of story. I suspect I’m still trying to figure out my cowardice next to someone like Paul. Maybe cowardice is too strong a word; I too like to look at things that scare me. I too like to try to find out and relate the truth. The world needs poets too, I suppose.