Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Soldier's Song



painting by joel spector

Soldier’s Song
Our history books 
are spattered with blood ponds
collected from myriads of men in mail,
who 
     swung
              the
                Lord’s
                        sword,
fighting in jihad, holy war, 
or politically designated skirmishes,
crushing the Infidels,
sowing death like berserk angels
with God on one side,
then the other.
White silken banners
and tunics stretched over armor
blazoned with bright red crosses,
or Saracen swords,
centuries soul-crusted upon centuries,
always with men on lonely battlements
or hunkered down in fire-bases
talking to Jesus Mohammed: 
Make it worthwhile, sweet Lord,
for my brothers are all dead,
their bodies ripped asunder,
just slaughtered sheep
lying all about me,
their beautiful voices are silent
and the stench of butchered meat
rises thick off festering corpses
choking the liberty out of me,
piled holocaust-high as sacrifice
to the cruel kings of this earth;
Yes, I understand that my enemy
is godless and love can not be wasted
on heathens- but I have killed for You
and even though the wet blood
under my fingernails will wash off, 
the black death mold that surges
into my heart seems inexorable;
I tell you I hear them, those angry voices
coming for me out there in the void,
calling my name in ten languages,
and I just have to tell you
I do not feel ready to give
the last measure of my devotion,
for doubt plagues me
like a red demon riding my shoulders;
for all the mothers of heathens
cannot be whores--I see men’s faces
looking up at me off the concertina wire,
men who had rallied 
to banners of their own
praying to their perception of You,
men with children,
who had known fear, 
and lice and love,
whose families and flower gardens
still await their return,
so tell me big man,
whose bullet is more holy, and
will I see the face of my God
just as my heart stops?
Glenn Buttkus
June 2012

Posted over on dVerse Poets-OLN

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?

7 comments:

Susan said...

Wow! Moving from history book generalities into the heart/mind of one soldier truly works for me, and even more so because he is in prayer for faith when experience shows him "all the mothers of heathens cannot be whores" and so like him are "men with children, who had known fear, and lice and love, whose families and flower gardens still await their return. . . " Amen. Answer, please.

Thank you for this poem.

Brian Miller said...

whose bullet is more holy...and god replies, who is your god? and we kill some more...because obviously god is on one side right? we are not that different...great write sir...

Ginny Brannan said...

Wow, this breathes its intensity in its story, in the questions that lie unanswered at least in this lifetime. Excellent write, Glenn.

kolembo said...

Gorgeous...perhaps the wrong sentiment but yes, gorgeous.
Whose bullet is more holy...
indeed.

http://kolembo.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/the-courtyard/

Old Ollie said...

nice - good and gritty

Victoria said...

This is so strong, Glenn. When we stop to think how crazy we are, fighting in the name of God. Poor God. Will we ever understand?

Chazinator said...

Powerful poem. Really. In the most ignoble words ever spoken, "Kill them all, let God sort them out." St. Dominic, I believe.