They march to the beat of deception,
in a land steeped in old world tradition.
And the scorch of sun and hate blisters,
where the fashion pinnacle of camouflage and gun metal
Rivulets of red run down seething streets of anger
and filth laden roads of resentment roar
in a city brimming in protest.
Flames fueled by a flood of enmity.
And the body count rises ....
Children tote guns,
young girls toss grenades and
old women hurl rocks.
while mothers wail
over a patchwork of broken bodies.
And the carnage continues ....
With the whirr of choppers,
blasts of gunfire and
explosions of landmines.
The bursting of bombs is deafening.
And the screams ....
Tears of torment,
wailing moans and
The desperate cries
curdle the blood and rivet the soul.
And the massacre ensues ....
Crimson streams in the soil and
viscera splattered draped foliage.
A groundcover of mangled human flesh
and twisted bones.
Life drowns in a bath overflowing with blood.
Soldiers summoned to stand guard
over a boiling pot of ambivalence lament, "We die for country and honor!"
(But what honor is there in lies?)
They die under false pretense,
as they march to the beat of deception.
The thoughts of the soldier tumble in terror
through the glacial blur of his mind.
Gripping thoughts of the Reaper tread along
at his side as flares clash in the night.
Lying in the trenches nearby,
he can see those He didn't pass by.
He is languished by hunger and pain,
as insects buzz to the core of his brain.
Gunfire lights up the starless sky and
in the distance the multitudes cry.
This time, He passes by.
Men cut down like blades of grass,
so young, they're gone in a flash.
He marches on, he cannot stop,
though the shrapnel is searing hot. "What is right with this wrong?" he cries,
in this war besieged with lies.
For the last grenade he fumbles,
as a soldier behind does stumble.
He lets out a tormented shriek,
of the horrible sight he can't speak.
Bombs burst all around.
So many screams, then no sound.
The deafening silence of pain,
then wails fill the air, like rain.
Ambushed from the rear, faces frozen in fear.
The enemy draws nearer, so near.
Dog tags buried in mud,
foliage spattered with blood.
He curses each day in the sludge
but holds fast to his post, can't budge.
Death scent hangs in the clouds
and darkness veils like a shroud.
Again, He passes by.
Lives interrupted too soon
as eminent danger looms.
In horror his brothers die.
Once more he is spared and asks "Why?" "I rise to another deathsong day," he laments.
His mind wanders from this pit of hell ...
then voices a blood chilling yell.
Hitting hard the ground with a thud,
eyes filled with tears and his blood.
As he stares at the stars and cries,
he looks to the heavens, gasps "Why?"
This time, He doesn't pass by.
Shadows in the pitch stir.
Instinctively he raises the biting steel
and takes aim at his final reality,
in the hell-hole of madness.
Restless spirits rustle like fallen leaves in autumn
in the calmness of the cemetery, early morn.
A saddened mother sits on a weathered bench,
birdseed in a brown paper bag
clutched between tired hands,
for the starlings to appear.
The still pond of reflections rests in peace,
as she wonders of the spirits here,
formless, quiet ...
maybe sitting beside her
or on the small rock near her feet.
Rows of flags wave in recognition.
Tributes and memorials loom
in marble, granite and stone.
Shrines of mere mortals.
Some so grand and tall
they seem to pierce the clouds,
casting their long shadows
across the perfect green.
The mist of grief hangs heavy
from the weight of a million souls.
Each day another mother weeps,
sobs in the silent shadows
of war's wretchedness.
She reaches into the paper bag,
tosses seeds to the starlings
as they stumble over each other
in a skirmish to sate the hunger.
She sits pondering ...
the how's and why's of war,
and reflects on the long journey ....
Perhaps we are not meant to understand,
by Charlene Howard
... who is a floral designer, and was inspired to write poetry
after the death of a friend; this is her first published work.