Poets Of War

A billion words of poetry
a million lines of rhyme
a hundred thousand bloodied hands
have captured death sublime

As boys to war, men do return
old lives they try to find
but haunted dreams that come at night
set fire to the mind

Survivor's guilt will spur them on
switch rifle for the pen
the poets born of war will write
the odes to dying men

A body rots for every word
from Troy to DMZ
and blood is blood, and runs red
in rivers to the sea

The verbs and nouns like bullets, collect
in the shadow of the gun
into a shape somewhat like verse
the poet has begun

The poet looks for metaphor
to capture what it's like
to die a wretched painful death
upon a paddy dike

His paper has a water mark
it is the poet?s tear
the pain will linger and give birth
to words forged out of fear

Where does this beauty come from?
these rhyming words of war?
the souls of men who once were boys
but are young boys no more

The poets changed forever now
by steel and brass, sword and shell
his words of tragic beauty will
tell others of the hell

More wars will come, more poets born
chaff among the living
what moves these men to write this way?
it is their way of giving

Run through with lance, shot through with lead
the slaughter makes no sense
erase the dates and death is death
in past and perfect tense

The death of boys will linger on
for years if not a day
all war is good for poetry
no price too high to pay

The poets of war will say as much
the truth is stark and bare
they take their pain and make it real
for all to read, who dare

© Jeff Manthos 2000
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