War Thoughts

poems by david radavich


First of all, it's in our living room
like a close friend. With advertisements.

People smile as they are killing.
They admit it's inevitable.

The victims will be better off,
the weapons are sharper than ever.

Millions are turned by the ad campaign,
recalcitrants are so unpatriotic.

The pictures are indeed convincing:
It's a good story told by winners.

Our soldiers miss
their wives and boyfriends.

I could almost
vote for that, if I could vote.

And I wouldn't have
to feel anything.

That belongs to the freeze-framed,
the bombed, the orphaned,

blood that does not flow in our living rooms,
heads that don't explode on our carpets.

What a relief.



War is not part of our memory.
It's something we do to others, to make
them memorize suffering which
we give to forget.

We do a lot of burying—only
now it's cremation: cleaner, simpler.

The ghosts of others
are not ghosts for us.

To live in the present,
to consume and satisfy
bodies, is to wash away time.

Only the rivers know
what we have killed, what
we have forgotten

hurrying against stones.



How can anyone sleep?

Fireflies turn the night over
like plows.

Stars have gone on vacation,
wanting justice.

Darkness reigns like a hawk,

No wonder it's peaceful.

Only what is dead speaks.

Only the suffering listen
like children.




where bodies sink
without trying

an alien force no one knows
or should have known

struggling only
makes everything worse

eyes see now darker
than anyone had planned

just beyond reach
the hand that might rescue

history sinking
of its own mad weight

this emptiness
now covering itself

in the dry sun
in the dry and dusty sun




Softness has left
to take up residence

somewhere else.

That was another soul
than the one I was born with,

another world
than we know without

I wish
life were otherwise

I wish

I could report tuna casseroles
and tiaras, a babe

in a manger
taken in by strangers,

visits by wise people who traveled far
to locate their blessings,

seers who avoid going home to routines
they know only kill and maim

I wish

the front lines
rhymed into stanzas

that a superior poet
could freeze into beauty

that would equal

leap into joy

give us back
comforting news

tomorrow and tomorrow