Where there were green fields


Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg

On a ridge, astride my horse,
A scene of hell spreads before me,
An acrid pall hangs over a valley,
Wild flowers no longer grow here,
Their splash of colors erased,
Where green grass grew, mottled grey,
What the eyes see, the ears refuse,
Sounds that no human should hear,
The metallic rain and thunder that fell,
Replaced with the rasp of suffering,
A constant wasp stinging the mind,
Burrowing into the body’s soul and sinew,
What madness possesses men to so struggle,
What insanity this sacrilege to earth,
Religion, ideology, imagined boundaries,
If there be gods what must they think,
What punishment greater awaits us all,
And yet we pursue, we choose sides,
Never really understanding why,
Reason clouded by ones heated passion,
Later in reflection, supping a bitter cup of regret,
I turn away riding into the fog of time,
The lesson is never learned, never realized,
It is a continuously spinning many-sided dreidel,
We are all doomed by its predictable choices,
Our only salvation is tomorrow, let it not be another today.

©2013, Donald Harbour


Flags flutter and fall

This dream…..this dream
haunts, it will not release me.
Men dressed in gray rags,
sunken eyes, hollow cheeks,
heads hung, shuffling down
a dusty desolate red rime road.
Some with shoes, some barefooted.
They parade in lines of hundreds,
in small groups, a few stumble alone.
Men with slack mouths, dumbfounded.
“How did they get here,” I ask.
A voice answers in a whisper,
“They lost, in defeat they lost.”
I cannot speak to them, for
my heart is heavy, not for their loss,
for their humanity, their despair.
“Why have they come to this?”
The voice answers,
“Their cause was not just,
their belief was not valid.”
Before me a passing wagon moans
filled with broken bandaged men,
flies attack their festering wounds.
The air is heavy with the scent of battle,
gun powder, steel, blood and flesh.
It is a pitiless horror, a waste,
as are all wars through the ages.
Winners suffer as much as the conquered.
The earth groans to absorb the violence.
The tears that stain my cheeks burn,
their acrid path seared by sorrow.
“There is so much pain,” I say.
“It is a nation’s to bear,” intones the voice.
“For what was lost will never be,
what will be will heal the wounds.
That which divided will bond the parts.”
The ragged men begin to fade from sight,
filing over the crest of a southern leading hill.
Bathed in a sunset of crimson, the
blue sky a background with lines of stars.
As darkness descends on this scene,
guidons cast off their red gilded staffs,
all their flags of honor have fluttered and fallen.

© 2011, Donald Harbour