The Mighty Dead

“All autumn, the chafe and jar of nuclear war;
we have talked our extinction to death.”

― Robert Lowell, For the Union Dead

Soldiers still roam these bloody fields, eyes fierce
And deadly, their lips moving in unison; the bare plenum
Of a chancel empty, the clergy hung upon a dark tree,
And we the living dead remind ourselves this is life’s comedy.

Striving even now they bellow war chants in the streets,
Cries of liberty against the dreams of the mighty dead;
A time of memory gone south where falling heroes pull
Their weight in bronze, erased, no more than twisted metal.

Hanging heads despair their days are numbered,
Knowing sleep is worse than death’s lonely songs;
Wiped of all trace they stand among these stones, broken,
Hollowed out to meet the silence of this sea of hate.

We’ve buried freedom in a mausoleum built of pride,
Where the stains of war contest this day’s rage;
And like children dancing in a sacred circle, soldiers
Sing in innocence of such tragic consequence.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

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