Monday, 30 June 2014

The first to fall (edit 1)

Those on that foreign shore that lay there
in their armor, shining like dazzling shells,
littering the coast, discarded, never
again to hear their mother’s voice — How many
of our finest fell that first landing...
how many young men barely shaven?

Too many heard the call to arms, heeded
the words of honor or valor and came running.
They could not turn aside for fear
of the finger pointed at them as they passed,
or the look in the eyes of their fathers or brothers
so they came with swords and shields
and died before it even began… Died
there on the shore of the Scamander, their swords
untested, their shields heralding their bright dreams
in the sun that shone down that day we beached
before Troy and were met with arrows.

How many fell? Too many.
One…one bright boy would be too many
but it was far more than that—enough to stain
that alien sand red. Enough that carrion birds
came in their squawking thousands to feast.

Would they have come, those boys
if they had known they would die that first day,
the first day of ten years?
And the others? Those who fell
or were maimed or simply lost in time,
would they have come, too, knowing ten years would pass?

Oh what fools we men are, with our brave words
and adventurous hearts
that lead us to kill or be killed—perhaps
because we can never again return to our mother’s arms.

Or perhaps because of the eyes our fathers’ cast upon us…
eyes that know what we really desire
and laugh—or worse send us off to fight
the wars and die on the shores of lands
distant from the comforting loam where we were born.

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