A free-verse poem about the glory of war.
to when as small boys we battled
with wooden swords to play death
as brave warriors, all the while imagining
making our parents proud, our peers envious.
As teenage boy-men we followed
news of the war (there is always a war
somewhere) with intense interest,
all the while imagining ourselves gallant
heroes who impressed other men and won
the hearts of all the adoring girls.
As young men we listened to the politicians,
with their nationalistic rhetoric, their call
to arms, their promise of victory and glory
to be won. We listened to the old men’s
war stories. We bought in; we volunteered.
We were so proud. We were so eager.
We wanted to be bathed in the glory of war.
As soldiers we fought bravely, fought all day
on this field for our lives among the chaos,
the dust and blindness, among the horrendous
sounds and smells of battle, among the sheer
terror that is man doing his all to succeed at
killing man in fury and unabated hatred.
For this we trained? For this we endured
months of hardship, loneliness, boredom,
and worry? Who imagined it’d be like this?
Where are all the braggarts now? All their
brave talk? All I hear are the sounds of
men scared, men in pain, men dying all
around me. All I see is misery, pure misery.
Now I lie dying; I feel my blood seeping
into the hot sand. I think of home and family.
I think of all the experiences I shall miss.
I think of God and what lies ahead.
As the sun sets heralding darkness,
I look around. I squint my eyes.
I cannot find it.
Nowhere do I see the glory of war.
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