Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

No Shelter From the Storm


I was running through my sister’s neighborhood in KY and saw that “Support the Troops They Want Victory You Should, Too” sign in a yard. For a long time, after my nephew Chase was killed in Iraq, my sister had a large board, propped against a tree in front of her house, bearing a laminated photograph of Chase along with the number of troop deaths. She’d change the number frequently.

One morning, she went outside and the sign was gone, stolen during the night.

There is something unsettling about this–a particular violation of the unspoken, unwritten rules of bereavement. A sign with a picture of a dead loved one is a memorial, and its removal is a desecration, almost like tampering with a gravesite, trespassing on a family’s grief.

Recently, I mentioned in an article a trip to North Carolina to visit one of my sons. My best friend was with me and on the morning we headed home, I’d awakened earlier than usual, obsessing on war, petroleum oceans, and the lyrics from Shelter From the Storm. I drank my coffee and downed a punchbowl-size serving of yogurt and fruit while I had a conversation with my son about the implications of the oil torrent, after which I hugged and kissed him bye bye, and left Chapel Hill.

Around noonish, my friend wanted to stop at a Subway Sandwich Shop. Subway was one of the sponsors of a pro-war event, the “Freedom Walk,” that occurred on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2005. I refuse to support the business. But, hell yes, I would use their loo. And, so, I pulled into the parking lot, went inside, and headed for the bathroom while my friend ordered her sandwich. First thing I noticed was the chain and lock that held the toilet tissue dispenser to its mooring.

Someone might steal the toilet tissue?

These are the times in which we live.

I’m thinking they will become worse. Actually, they already have.

While running, I observe my physical surroundings and the course that’s racing in my mind. Sometimes, I see trivia. But, usually, I think about our huge military budget, immoral foreign policy, the toll our war crimes exact on the people who live in the countries we invade, and the costs to our military families and on all of us as human beings. Those at the center of power are possessed by big corporations. Every breath they take is calculated to maintain their interests to the dereliction of ours. They rescue the wealthy while abandoning the working poor and middle class.

Since April, my preoccupation has been the gushing oil from the Earth-soaking catastrophe that’s plunging us into uncertainty. This is our planet, our collective body, on which BP performed invasive, major, exploratory surgery. Everything that could go wrong did/has and may doom us to extinction.

Today, when I ran, I found a penny. I’m not religious. Superstitious, yes. Is there a difference? I scooped up the penny and threw it in the air to make a wish. My children’s safety. Selfish. All children’s safety. That would, of course, include my children. Include everyone because we are all someone’s children. I wish for …………. the petroleum hemorrhage to stop. Absurd. Wishing is as effective as praying.

And, then, I conjured up an image of Michelle and Barack. She’s holding onto one of his ears, marching him to her organic garden where she says: “Look, MR. BUSH, my little effort here is less than a piss dribble.” She muscles him to the ground, pushing his face into the soil. Her hand is on the back of his head, rubbing his nose into the dirt as she screams:

Man up. Man up, immediately, for Malia and Sasha, for me, and for the world. You have just sent a message to fathers that there’s no excuse for failing to meet their obligations. Meet yours. Protect the planet. Period. End the wars abroad and at home. Be a leader. Do what is necessary to give us shelter from the storm.

This Michelle mirage is as consequential as penny wishing and praying.

A nightmare becomes a daymare, and with it the question emerges: what if BP’s monster well shatters under its own weight and the gusher continues to blow, bleeding out, until the floor beneath the water collapses?

Maybe, life doesn’t go on. Maybe, unmoored, it is stolen by greed, and there is no shelter from the storm.

MISSY BEATTIE lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She will be in DC in July for Peace of the Action. Contact her at





Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”