Poem: A Thousand Armies

(Note: I may have posted this poem somewhere some time ago, but I am posting it now with a lifelong lament at the violence of our human history, with its resorting to armies so callously and often irrationally when it is a matter of individual human bodies and individual souls, and the destruction of life. True, you can sometimes never get someone to say “yes,” but it seems again and again that spilt blood is the signature we require for appeasement or coexistence.  Have you seen the bumper sticker with the word COEXIST spelled with a crescent and star for the initial C, a peace symbol for the O, the Star of David for the X, and the cross for the final T?)

coexist

A THOUSAND ARMIES

And the hapless Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls
— William Blake

A thousand armies sat on a wall and
everyone of them was dead

eating sandwiches out of little tin boxes
yellow broken teeth and considerable chewing

But their eyes were not that interested in seeing
their eyes didn’t follow anything moving in front of them
or look as they pulled the waxed paper away from their bread
or broke open their bottles of water or sat with their friends

There was a constant murmuring like a stomach churning its juices
a constant scratching like animals caught between walls

They sat on a wall overlooking an orchard and
each one of them was dead

But they watched the seasons come to life on the
vine in the vineyards and down the long
crop rows though their eyes barely took it in
and when the crops were harvested and the
snows came they barely blinked they barely noticed

Thousands of armies dangling their legs bootless in heaven
eating sandwiches out of little silver boxes
their eyes transformed from burning buildings and people
running into the streets to
green fields full of lions and lambs and other wingéd animals
lying together

though their eyes were always elsewhere

and their hearts were as round as the world

3/23/2003 (From Pslams for the Brokenhearted)

About danielabdalhayymoore

Poet, artist, collagist, publisher, hoping to save a little bit of the world through ecstatic utterance... ordered in balanced lines and unpremeditated images...
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One Response to Poem: A Thousand Armies

  1. Dawud says:

    Salaam alaikum, brother. I found your site from browsing on a site about Muslims in China. I also distinctly remember you reading a poem with the noted calligrapher Haji Noor Deen. Your poetry is quite interesting.

    I also write poems from time to time, though I confess that I am an amateur. I would appreciate your input on one of my more recent poems: http://dawudlindewei.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/untitledpoemintwoverses/

    Like

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