Ledger

ledger

Is blindness valid
Or the loss of a limb
In tallying the counts
Of a war lost or won?

Ink spilt, books closed
Paper poppy’s repose
“Compare and contrast…”
Porto, portas.

Toy men, pink map
Beat the enemy back
Duly step in your place
Donkeys, lions, lambs.

Bent double, strange hells
Never, never again
Sweet and proper it is –
Cliché that ends all wars.

Will mother remember him?
Private Smith (oder Schmidt)
Charging over the ridge,
The one they retook the next day.

Enlisted by abstractions
Schmidt J, never looked at twice,
Glories in his hero garb,
Salutes the name of the Kaiser.

Lottery of gunfire,
Smith gobbled up by the mud.
“One side loses more slowly”:
Breath expires with the wind.

Traffic loops the obelisk,
Bears “Schmidt” and dozens others.
Namesake stands beside me.
“An honourable sacrifice”.

Odd honour, being sacrificed,
Potlatch of the civilised world.
But words are only as good as
Who or what they’re aimed at.

No columns in this ledger for
Recommending righting wrongs.
Oblivion’s concise, cuts to the chase.
When clichés repeat, abstractions fixate.

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