Friday, January 9, 2009
Poem: The Fires of War
The Fires of War
Your eyes are red, weepy and tired
from lack of sleep, and the smoke
of war lies grey and threatening
like a night fog, licked with flames,
tired, like an ancient warrior
on the plains of Troy, on that last day,
when, even certain of victory,
you are stooped with the exhaustion of defeat.
Nearby, others bristle with excitement,
their first victory, and the adrenaline
that courses through their young bodies,
feeling, for a moment, invincible, eternal in the moment,
and they wonder at your quiet, at the calm
that has marked you in this week of chaos,
not knowing the truth that will come:
that there is always another battle,
and that victory is more about preserving your soul
than the tides of war.
I always find it amazing where poems, or any creative work, comes from. This one for instance, began because as I looked at myself in the mirror this morning, I had exceptionally bloodshot eyes. So I decided to play with the image of bloodshot eyes to begin a poem. Somewhere in the process, I remembered this picture.
The picture goes back to November, when my small group at church gathered around bonfires of brush on the church property, for an evening of fellowship. It was about as far from war as you can get, but the fires, several of them burning in a row, reminded me of campfires in an ancient battle. This poem combines that mental image with a long contentious week at work ... and this poem seems to have emerged. Not at all where I started.
As always, you can click on the image for a larger version.