Saturday, 30 June 2012

W-A-R, Worst of all Worlds

The world  owes much to the men and women in its armed forces wherever they may be. Nor should we ever forget that we owe as much if not more to their families and friends (along with everyone else) who, time and time again, are called upon to pick up the pieces of life, love and hope whenever and wherever lives fall apart; a time of peace, for some if not most of us can be another kind of war.

“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”  - Ernest Hemingway


What do people mean when they talk about
the 'integrity' of war?

Is it a comment on the neatness of body bags
laid out in a line?

Or maybe they are referring to injured people
rising above despair?

Can it be they mean the finer principles of war
have been upheld?

(Doesn’t everyone do their best to keep friendly
fire incidents to a minimum?)

Maybe its generals court integrity for strategies
of ‘win some, lose some’?

Can it be politicians promote their own integrity
to win elections?

Maybe it’s all about being polite, discreet, about
to whom the spoils of war?

I asked a soldier who lost an arm and a leg in Iraq,
but he just shrugged

Maybe (the soldier said) I should ask the orphans
and widows…on both sides?

Lots of questions and not nearly enough answers
or (any?) right ones

Poor humanity, ever caught in a cross-fire of words,
come worst of all worlds

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012; 2018

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title 'Next of Kin have been Informed, but should Refrain from Asking Questions' in Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; rev, ed, in e-format in preparation.]

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