Marching soldiers flare,
Through the town gate
Under a gray and misty mid-December sky.
Bound by their manhood,
Their honor and their zest to live
A life of reluctant motion.
For boredom is their greatest fear.
They are fragile beings, these men.
But in war all men are.
Their hearts bleed the blood of uncertainty:
Whether to perish before another sunset,
Or allow to live?
But regardless of their fugue state,
The generals push onward, forward
Into unknown territory,
Perhaps into unknown and unmarked graves.
Reluctantly, the men march,
For stagnation is their initial dread.
Part II : Hope
When at last the town walls are leveled,
People no longer under siege,
The local fighting men, heroes returning home,
Learn to grapple with survival.
For they are fragile entities,
And duty and honor are metaphysical centralities, realities
That they, too, embrace.
Even when outsiders,
Those totally foreign to such intimate concerns might cynically
speculate: "What good is honor and virtue
To he who has no life?"
But cynics are hard men who fail to recognize
That few things matter more,
Than answering to one's intuitive calling.
For bells toll for all who listen,
And who ready and willing must be.
Failure to answer this voice that beckons from within calcifies
On an old and forgotten grave from another age,
A weary, battle scarred soldier reads: "Every man rides down on a star at birth.
And as disfigured as this star may be,
Care to honor and cherish it.
But only the fortunate come to know this soon."
Part III : Death on the Field
As the antagonists are driven backwards,
Away from the town,
Away from innocence,
By men unlike them,
The roar of rifles becomes pronounced.
Like a universal cacophony of misrepresented harmony,
Like the sound created by a piano not well tuned.
In the distance, canons are heard.
Placed high above, on the fortress that protects the town,
Their sound, one equal to that of death,
Or perhaps honor,
This, depending on the view of the fighting men,
Or the hard-boiled sigh of the cynic.
Amidst the confusion of this exaggerated romanticism,
A young man falls to the snowy ground,
As those behind him tract through the frozen soil onward to
It is not clear what front he defends.
Yet this does not matter, now
For in battle all men defend the very same inherited human
— Either way.
The wounded soldier is carried away by a lovely debutante,
Once the gunpowder,
Has settled over the other bodies.
His face is reminiscent of advancing death.
He fears losing his honor, his manhood,
While it is his life that is now at stake.
As she drags his squalid body into a ruined,
Ravished cottage, now
Serving as an active call for universal human suffrage,
He squanders one last thought into oblivion: "Please. please miss,
Do not let me perish,
Do not let this body feed those earthly maggots.
I must return. I."
Her tears quickly follow.
They are the tears of a dreamer.
Both, mere children recently released from the womb.
Part IV : The Dance
She sits the dead soldier on a wooden bench,
Adding a greater morbidity on
This death saturated episode in her life.
His head rests against a wall
That harbors a fresco of red roses clustered in a field of white
As she stares into the countenance of young death,
She begins to put on her ballerina shoes,
That she takes from under the wooden bench.
The bench, now converted into a front row seat,
Or perhaps an incubator of life.
After several minutes of pensive solitude,
She begins her slow and deliberate motion,
Uninterrupted by her tears.
Her music? That which only she can hear,
Moves her body into an aesthetic of sincerity.
The light reflected by the milk white clouds,
Enable her to view her movements in anticipation.
In this desperate struggle, when art meets reality,
The limit of our passion is rapidly diminished.
She dances until her state of aplomb ceases her.
But still hoping to recapture the vitality of the lifeless,
The dance is never interrupted,
As the sound of death that surrounds her
Resumes its brief cease-fire.
Dancing to the music that solely her heart can witness,
She attains to timeless beauty, and the poetry of reality.
She demonstrates a touch of classicism, here, and there
Throughout her emphasis on order and coherence.
She now dances for the fulfillment of an aesthetic of life,
The revelation that music is as universal,
As war, honor, and death.
by Pedro Blas Gonzalez
... who is a philosophy professor at Barry University, has
published academic articles and a forthcoming book, Ortega Y
Gasset's Philosophy of Subjectivity: Human Existence as Radical
Reality (Feb 2005); and has completed two novels. Dr Gonzalez
is a Cuban refugee who has written about his family's emigration,
subsequent to the release of his father from the El
Escambrai forced-labor camp, in a short piece entitled