Ben Firetag
Works in Progression  

 
          Falls2.jpg 2004 by Ben Firetag
 Poem 74.  Spoils

The old man told us his tale
Of sadness as we watched him
Smooth the short, white hair
On his chest in inward
Spiraling, ever shortening
Circles.
      He told us
How long it took him,
Until old age, to understand
How wrong it is to war
With neighbors over such
Inconsequential trivialities
As land and unusable resources
Destroyed.
      He told us
Of inconsolable loss of love
And irretrievable loss of children
Torn asunder by ravages of war
And the fury of hate.
      He told us
Of the cost of surviving
For the victor, haunted by
Memories of seeing all those he
Held dear, spilling the last, red drops
Of life onto the bloody ground of
Righteous vengeance while
Recognition of truth flickered,
Too late to pass on, in the dimming
Light of their eyes.
      This was his gift
To us, his strength to live
Devoted to one purpose,
To surrender the knowledge
Of old age and harsh reality.
      As his voice
Faded and his body stopped shaking,
Our centurion took off
His helmet and gently closed
The old man's eyes, while we,
The victors of this battle
Against the foolishness of
Those who thought they were free,
Surveyed the desolation
      We had won.
April 23, 2004
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