Monday, May 26, 2014

Gassed (John Singer Sargent), Sonnet #180










I drew a high number the last year of the draft,
But a childhood disease would have kept me 4F.
I have a misshapen hip and couldn't force-march
Or negotiate a pitching deck, fore to aft.
I lost no friend or brothers to war; no one left
My high school to volunteer; no triumphal arch,
No memorial was erected in our town,
No first-hand accounts of battle were written down.
The nightly news showed all there was to see of death
And defeat: we lose each war the minute one man
Fails to open his eyes or to take a next breath,
And new wars start soon enough, because they can.
Both sides used mustard gas and we used napalm bombs,
Generously, Samaritans offering alms.

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