Monday, May 30, 2005

Devices of Faith

This is for the bargains
made under the light of
sputtering bulbs beyond
the reach of the sun,
promises to lovers
represented in tiny
wallet photos, promises
to greater beings even
than those, made upon
clenched hands and
other devices of faith,
whatever could be grasped
as the shelling begins.

This is for curing ills as
far as strange soil under
the standard issue boot heel,
solving all the real and imagined
terrors in the way with your
absence from all that was known
and safe and reasonable.

This is for bearing the
awful noises of nights
ripped asunder and laid
bare by those iconic things,
those rockets and bombs,
the totems we've been
born out of these many
long years.

This is for the stuttering
cadence of the machine gun
as it speaks gravely language
across dry hills, the burning
laser light of tracers aimed
upward at the phantom sound
of aircraft engines.

This is for that quick
indrawn breath and the
last look to receding
skies as the footfall activates
the land mine.
This is for putting aside
all those personal things,
all those things you renounced
with the oath and we have
since dishonored, all wrong
answers and unsaid accusations.

This, too, is for bearing the
scars without complaint,
living silently and often
without our regard, even on
these days set aside for
your remembrance.

This, all ye fathers and
sons, all ye mothers
and daughters, all the
indistinct legions here
and gone, we offer
as apology for our
thoughtless year,
memoriams muttered
out after all eleventh
hours have long since


Braleigh said...

This had a very musical quality to it. I couldn't help but hear a man's gravelly, morose voice chanting the words to the sounds of a Radiohead-like tune.

Loved it.

Spirit Of Owl said...

Well I'm just staggered.

The images blend into the rising rhythm, the narrative unfurling a bitter-sweet flag of national pride. The soldier brave is picked out in the shadow relief of the grateful, and heartfelt for it. I can almost hear marching feet into war as I read this.

The last verse, perhaps, would benefit from being a little less prescriptive. I feel that the poem says everything, and the last verse repeats.

However, this is the best poem I have read in a long time. Thank you so much.

Bill said...

Amen Firehawk, my hat is off to you... this is yet another, vivid imagery and great emotional swing...

Loved it!

Stranger Ken said...

This is a very fine and moving poem, Firehawk, which rides on the power of your own emotion and makes me think again about all the wars and conflicts in the shadow of which my entire life has been lived and in which members of my family and a few friends have died.

Firehawk said...

Thanks, everybody.

I was moved to write a poem for the occasion of Memorial Day (US), and the words just came out. I'm glad that you found them worthy.

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