this one is for bravery / and this one is for me / and everything's a dollar / in this box – Tom Waits
Sights I would spare you:
gasps of ghost dances in snow.
Peace requires accord. Explication.
Alone, I am möbius strip. History repeating.
My bandage-white flag, suspicious:
Mud and ripped scabs cling to its ragged point.
It’s contaminated, complicated.
Pints bled to fly it.
Foxhole agnostic concluding divinity’s touch
beyond knowing—no point contemplating.
Accept unilateral, unconditional surrender.
Do what you must. Name your terms.
Tell me how misguided: primitive notions of sacred.
Make me generic. Consumer girl. Pills and soap.
I’ll confess to any atrocity,
wear sin or sackcloth like a red velvet dress.
Lay sweating nightmares on my head.
I’ll thank you for being definite.
I fear the end as all animals fear pain,
but cannot care.
This ground: clotted churn. Ghoul deli.
This place: once homeland.
I swear it by my bandaged throat and bad right hand.
I swear it like Juliet upon your name.
Rename it all: worthy beyond measure and lost.
A sword-shaped scar that pulls at every step.
Born under the hammer and the anvil:
Forcefully. Flattening. Violent.
Becoming harder, sharper.
Balanced in the hand.
You need no champion.
You are too precious to split.
Obsolete soldiers do not die.
We dance for ghosts in snow.
This war, kept in my borders.
I could not burn your town and cry victory.
You ate breakfast to shotgun clips.
Shook your head at the awful things war does.
Who can bear to feel for foreign countries
with all that pain, risk and talking?
I do not expect forgiveness. I do not expect:
Wait, head down for whatever comes.
All’s fair in love, war and writing.
I never achieved necessary ruthlessness.
Pull these strokes to knotted shoulders:
Snapshot of a soldier who couldn’t follow through.
I twitch with this restraint.
I call it dancing.
Throw me a dollar for this dented purple heart.
Say you felt pity for the refugee. Shake your head.
Take comfort in how foolish you were not.
How fair. How removed.
Tell your grandchildren horror stories.
Sell souvenirs of the wreckage.
Tell them of tragedy too beautiful to stop.
Tell them of the benison of your shilling.
Bless you for your spare change.
Carve your leaders into my side. Call me monument.
Bless your wise, shut mouth.
No one can accuse you of misspeaking.
Bless you for remembering the real enemy,
keeping your diplomacy close to your own door.
Bless me for attempting to harrow the field
although I was not shaped well for this service.
Bless me for refusing to strike or lay down and die.
For the peace of it: everything sacrificed for your safety.
Bless me, brother. You can afford it.
You will be the one who writes the books.