Sonnet IX: The Damned

Sell all your daughters and enslave your sons;
And pray they find a swift mortality;
Loot boys of childhood, strapped to bombs and guns;
And stone the little girls, once made you smile;

And close your eyes or turn your back; destroy,
Make hard your heart, to this reality;
Unclothe your helpless infant girls and boys
And mutilate them all; deaf to this vile

Lament; and let their wailing be the first
As worship to their god’s brutality;
Your agonising life and theirs is cursed;
Kindness… mercy… and love… are all a trial.

Unchained, you’ll wish a stranger peace and life;
Most likely on your way to stone your wife.

This sonnet is part of a short sequence; click here to read it all:

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Sonnet VIII: The Craven and the Valiant

I’ve been ashamed I have not held the line
Myself. Nor shown respect for those who did
Nor ever thought I could, a thought kept hidden
On a shelf of false disdain, maligning

Those who would; and pained to think my spine
Was weak. At least, until that day undid
My cravenness. That day I knew, amid
My web of lies, that woven not of mine–

No, tangled from another’s twine, a slack
And mangled maven–much more meek, supine,
More cowardly as then I was.  No black
Nor white existed, why the fuss? he late
Insisted, only grey: The grey of hate
Of they who save the day, and hold the line.

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Sonnet VII: Satan’s Silence

Could God’s devout assail with flame a room
Of helpless innocents whose only crime:
Descent from their inferno without time
To don a hooded veil, so to their doom

Were sent? What god commands her to a tomb
Half sunk in earth, and rent with stone by grime
Stained hands, a helpless girl? What paradigm–
That knew the violation of her womb,

Then learnt this travesty her god offends!?
Whose crime could be the punishment of rape?
What god is this?  What votary attends?
While gawkers ’round the world in silence gape?

If God gives love, redemption, hope, and breath,
I name him Satan, feignèd god of death.

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Sonnet VI: The Peace Prayer

She sang her hymn before her eyes had seen
The glory of the coming of the Lord,
The blood and death of mortar, gun, and sword,
And brother killing brother long had been.

Then callow-sang of peace, with freedom won,
To eager faces, white and brown… and black,
Whose liberty had just been gifted back
Still soaked with blood by mortar, sword, and gun.

Imagine men had heard that hymn four score
And seven years of blood and death before,
Heard next her callow, pacifist’s decree,
Laid down their arms to study war no more:

With shackled peace from sea to shining sea,
What hue would now such eager faces be?

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Sonnet V: By Their Fruits

I saw and I believed and then I knew;
As brick and mortar fell, and glass and steel;
And blood and flesh and fire, mien, and weal,
And hope, and dream, and aspiration slew;

And friendship, love and heart, and sky once blue
Now green with envy, angry red with zeal
Of hate, of lie, of wound no lie can heal,
And speculation knowingly untrue.

I heard, I disbelieved and then I thought:
How typical that supposition grew
So cravenly away from where it ought
To rest; from certainty that, shining through
This calumny, these wailing filth have wrought
This death–these filth who hide from what is true.

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Sonnet IV: The Valiant and the Craven

So valiantly hast thou thy battles fought
For everyone we love, as well as we.
Our fathers and our mothers lived to see
The grandchildren thy blood and valour bought.

And what a crime that none today are taught
The sacrifice thou chos’t as thy decree,
The horror thou hast braved so valiantly,
Thy blood with which their apathy was wrought.

How they will rage when next the bugle sounds
And none are left to stand before its call.
How they will curse thy gravestones one and all;
Yet none may wake thee in thy hallowed grounds.
With ramparts left unmanned, they’ll know the why,
And know thy sacrifice before they die.

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Sonnet III: The Vigilant

“I teach the use of ordinance to boys.
It’s just a job, not so unlike your own.
I wake up every morning to the drone
Of my alarm, and teach them what destroys

“And kills. A job like yours,” he said, “employing
Skills ones discipline requires. Condone
The harm or not, my job inspires alone
Young men who sought this life. When mine deploys,

“We, rough and ready, make the day our own.”
“But can you quit?” I asked, “you’ve pledged to keep
It–like a wife–for better or for worse.”

“And, quit or fail, I won’t be sought nor thrown
In jail; nor watch my wife, from heaven, weep
Upon my empty coffin in a hearse.”

This sonnet is part of a short sequence; click here to read it all:

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