Lest We Forget

By John Delonas

The barbed wire is russet in the winter sky,
Its thorns thirsting for a distant foe
Crouched in their quilted uniforms
In animal silence, suffering as we in the cold;
Our sandbags become one with the earth,
Bursting with the frost, the trenches fill with silt,
So disappear like those at Amiens and Soissons
With time; and little men prowl about the hills
And into dark crannies, and check off in
Some human mold roused from secret fold,
And in rubber bags cart it off--
The thing to his motherland an ocean away.
Pompous creatures with armbands referee this game,
And politics decide who shall break the silence
Overshadowing those drab lives moled into the crags,
Whose frigid hands hesitate to take the cold shard
Again, remembering what others have forgot:
The bitter wage of they who dispute the gauntlet,
Regardless of who cast it.

Murmuring along the dry river bed,
Poised expectant for the spring flood,
When the ascendant sun shall loose the hold
Of ice on the growing pires to the north;
The mountains will lift and their jagged peaks tear
The underbelly of the sky, discharging her entrails
Over the unbridled slopes, releasing the rush
To the sea that none can withstand nor rebel against;
Yet, this too shall pass, absorbed into the deep;
The wooden share will turn the sodden ground

Behind the straining ox; men in white probing
The clod with a seed, unmindful of lines,
For food supplants all;
If that share will turn a helmet or-- a skull,
No respectful pause, but it will be cast with the rocks
Aside in a desolate corner to brood, perhaps
Of Dakota' s golden fields or New Jersey's gentle slopes
Never to be seen again.

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