Armistice/The Future

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We are here because they are not

Because of their deaths in the dirt
under fire       stinking with fear
bleeding out    begging for mothers
a kiss            a glimpse of home

eardrums and minds shattered
by the rain of shells (of which 
it is more accurately on record
where and how many fell)
and across the wire (they were
reliably informed)   the monsters of hell

So many mothers’ sons dehumanised by terror
and believing the trade was fair (the alternative
being a cigarette and a blindfold) and the catalyst
was an idea (handed down from the executive heights),

ever-simpler in its iterations
the closer it got to the frontline

until you could write it on a headstone
with room to spare for age (too young)
and name (not known): a FUTURE - 
the very survival of civilisation

justifying the struggle as one
that their children need not repeat again

(this despite the evidence of generation 
after generation – where History does not serve, 
she is fast – and first – forgotten)

that necessitated an US (blameless, homogenous)
and a THEM (subhuman, fair game) 

we celebrate how much they gave up in pursuit of this aim
we wonder what we might ever be asked to sacrifice, and what for

Because what we face now is deadlier than war
and the choice is simple - wear a blindfold - or a white feather.

Hearts braver than bayonets
voices louder than landmines
the whistle sang and they
walked into the storm

and we celebrate them – living, blood unspilled;
flower, root and stem, remembering
that they would rather have been home
for Christmas, like they were told

(Bad jokes, like dead heroes, never get old)
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