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ask a soldier



a war is never really over
ask a soldier
who's seen too many enemies
clouds of smoke and ash
shock and awe
bodies spattered over alley walls
bodies torn and tangled
bodies punctured, punctuated
bodies that still breathe, still bleed
bodies wracked with merciless anguish
bodies coming home
bodies that will never be found

a soldier has to say
I killed for truth
I killed for human decency
I killed because our way is right
and they would damn our way of life
but how could a warrior look
into those children's eyes
and talk of dead fathers
dead sisters and sons
dead lovers, dead mothers
dead, scorched earth and dreams

when you wake up from killing
there are faces you will see
flashes of impact that will strike you
time and time again
as you smoke your cigarette
as you drink your whiskey
as you open up your veins
to a needle of momentary forgetfulness
there are scenes that will never leave you
waking, sleeping
a war is never over
ask a soldier
look into a soldier's eyes

Saint Christopher, Ubangi Lord, and I



Saint Christopher said, "let’s get drunk", that sounded good to me
we cracked the sacramental flask and stared out at the sea
a son of the Ubangi tribe was reeling in the sands
his pagan rites were full of life, and wind danced in his hands
full mesmerized, we watched him there, in jealousy and awe
one flagon drained, we took one more, and toasted what we saw
then lightning cracked and Neptune roared; great waves engulfed the man
but somehow through the foam he rose, upon a crest to stand
his ebon skin cast glints of light; his hair was halo’d fire
electric bolts struck at his chest, yet he rose ever higher
in arcs of bluish light he seemed a great and holy bird
two bottles done, we broached the bag, and opened up a third
behind the hellish din I heard Saint Christopher implore
his righteous God to intervene in this ungodly war
but somehow, as great Neptune raged in impotence and spite
‘twas Xochipilli joined the fray, just at the dawn of night
he danced down clouds around the glowing, raptured African
with mystic, winged frogs he blessed our bright Ubangi man
the Flower Prince had cast his spell, and love was on the breeze
now lightning danced to gentler tunes, and hope becalmed the seas
but something on the edge of dark still lurked along the shore
we cast three empty vessels out, and groped for number four
then subtle Loki joined the fray; Saint Christopher was stunned
he’d never dreamed that holy soils could be so damned fecund
abandoning his pious stance, (he had to to survive)
he claimed a flagon for himself, and gave me number five
the edges of our vision blurred, our tongues were thick and numb
I tell you now, what happened next would strike us cold and dumb
a cosmic rift appeared, and then, from heavens unexplored
the pantheon of Hindu gods came through and drew their swords
now thick and fast, from every realm, new deities blew in
and soon our stash of holy wine would vanish in the din
but first, our proud Ubangi man would slip out of the fray
and join us there to share our wine before we passed away
We woke to see a radiant dawn and mirrored, glossy brine
that any doings untoward occurred, there was no sign
just twelve unburdened flagons there, and one Ubangi lord
Saint Christopher ordained himself, and threw away his sword
agnostic now to all the realms, he found himself at peace
the three of us discussed last night; we all achieved release
we staggered down the perfect beach, back to the liquor store
we thanked the clerk for last night’s wine, and bought eleven more