How to Remember
Build yourself a soldier. More than one.
Take sticks, stones, mud – all of these
are traditional materials. Use them.
Also paper, blood, children, trees,
fertile fields, peaceful towns –
whatever gets the job done. Call
for patriots. For nationalists.
For right-minded citizens. All
manner of materials – you’re
in the army business now.
Paint them olive. Paint them khaki.
Paint them desert-cammo brown.
Use your wits. Use your brain.
Use your teeth, your nails, your fists.
Use philosophy, psychology,
make up slogans, make up lists,
make up enemies and axies,
make up intelligence reports
make it with us or against us
make it hearts and minds and shock and awe
and that’s good – you’re nearly ready.
Good – you smell their pain.
Now back into your nightmares
and begin it all again.
Triggered by Read Write Poem’s prompt #25: A How-to Poem.
Crude, I know. But today is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand, and it’s hard not to look around and feel despair at the almighty mess we as a species keep getting ourselves into. (Pick a war, any war …) And tired despair doesn’t equate to “good quick poem”.
I have friends in the armed forces, and I do understand the need for war in some circumstances. But one of the things Ian Hamilton wrote a hundred years ago still holds true: you fight to win, as quickly and with as little damage as possible.
How quickly we forget.