Independence Hard Scrabbled.
I dodged bullets that sought
to bleed it from me,
leaving scars red and blue
stitched in small criss-crossed stripes
on pale white skin.
I sometimes run my fingers
in the grooves
along the wall
that list the names,
of men whose bones lie
tumbled in gray coffins,
beneath endless other
crosses row on row,
I watch our commander-in-grief
send more to catch bullets
and shrapnel blasts
in foreign lands
that will never know freedom
centuries of chaos prove that,
Blind non-warrior leaders
sending all but their own
I weep for the fallen,
and pray for the maimed,
for who will hire burned, scarred
double and triple amputees
when the war is done, "You??"
for your offices, or
store counters, or restaurants??
I have held mothers in my arms,
whose sons have vanished forever,
no where to tend the flowers,
by the stone that shows
his final resting place,
bones moulder in the jungles,
corrode deep in the oceans,
rot in the wreckage
high on mountaintops
no closure back at home,
where moms weep over fading photos.
I have folded flags into small wedges,
and presented them to the bereaved,
just a tiny corner of what once was,
all wrapped up neat but empty of him,
I have fired 1/7th times 3 of the
parts of twenty-one gun salutes,
the harsh blasts echoing over the dead,
much like the last sound they heard,
and then the bagpipes bleed wails
and make me weep,
damn the dress blues, and protocol,
something about "Amazing Grace"
coming over a graveyard hill
and growing louder as it nears,
and then fading softly as they march on
moves my soul to moisten my eyes.
And when taps plays, the song
that put us all to sleep each night
and now lays to eternal rest a fallen hero,
my heart is laid out with them,
beatless it pauses as that last note fades,
then it gathers the strength needed
to move on in their place.
There is a formation high above,
where one by one the soldiers
who have fallen out muster,
and stand proud before God,
and he salutes them
each and every one,
and whispers, "At ease boys,"
and so they will remain
at ease in glory forevermore
for the glory they fought for,
and for the country they died for,
far above the madness of this world.
Independence is simply us,
in dependence on them,
for without them we would all
most likely be enslaved
to some mad man's rules.
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