War succeeds daylight on TV
Where tanks spurt into blasts
And the manic hands of medics
Ply shirts from mangled backs.
Memories are still burnt up in hate
By the shadows of old rocks
Where the ashes of the tortured lie
And brothers took brothers to be shot.
And the Genocidal Murderer
Is still locked up
As terrorists stalk streets
From block to block.
Some say to pull out,
Let the people darken their seed,
Let night thicken their dawn
To fill up the graves they need.
Others say, let the clinic helpers go
Who toil over the weak
To keep their pain out of hell
As snipers strike in heat.
I watch a shot-down soldier on the road,
Rammed to the pavement with a wound
As if craters were between us
Or appointed Fates in a room.
His eyes stare out from the screen,
Spitting out mettle and strength,
The spunk formed out of himself,
Dwarfed by the day's length.
Huddled near him, two civilians
On a bomb-shattered bend
Took death from some bullets.
Spots of daylight dapple them.
I listen to the noise on the screen
With the same daylight color
And watch the soldier deal
With the hate he has to suffer.
Over him a flag is waving.
Circles of smoke streak the sky
For the stretch of a few seconds
That the folding day hides.
Somehow the war comes toward me then,
Reaching me in my room.
Blood to every window
Puts out the sun at noon.
The soldier repairing peace
Seems to invent his steps
Through the gun-sharpened city,
Undiminished as breath.
I think of all wars past
When sunlight turned on blood
And of Saddam's ruddier gaze
On the look of death and thugs.
I think of hell from behind a table
Like a knife between my ribs
And of the noiseless cry of the gassed
Like smoke off a girl's lips.
When is war not evil?
Is the larger question still
From the high windows of Stockholm
To some gassed victim's cell.
by James Wm. Chichetto
... who is a freelance poet, with eight books of verse to his
credit, and works appearing in The Native American Poetry
Anthology, The First Abbey Wood Anthology, The
Boston Globe, The Boston Phoenix,
The Colorado Review, Gargoyle,
The Manhattan Review, Poem,
The Paterson Review. He is related to combat
veterans of the Korean War and World War Two; and teaches writing
and literature at Stonehill College.