At War [An Investigation]

At War [An Investigation]

In times of peace the sons will bury their fathers.
In times of war fathers bury their sons.


A young boy has rummaged for scraps of wood & nailed them
to approximate the shape of an AK 47 automatic rifle.

His (soon-to-be army issue) web-belt,
a single string he’s slung across his back,

will have to do (as the love song says)
until the real thing comes along.


There’s a farmer wandering the roads of Rwanda with four bent scythes
stretched across his back:

Death in an old disguise?

Maybe just another scavenger plying his trade?


Cahoots & chortling recruits parade / a pole / they’ve strung with the
heads, hearts & testicles of the fallen.

As the maimed try to rise they flail & collide & it’s then the Minotaur comes,
sniffs the air & finding blood, feasts on the remains:

no bodies left to rot, no bones to store. No relics to hang on your slim


The photographers that survive are always suspect:

“Where were you when he was shot?” “Where were you when the
tanks rolled in?”
“Where were you when she was shattered by the mines?”
“ Where . . .?”

“Where – Indeed.”

Here.     In the trench. In the trench we’ve scooped from sand & broken

where we’ve been trapped in a rain of blood & shredded skin & once a leg &
even arms & when we can,

we run with the stench & the stuff that clings & my film & . . .


If not me than who?

Who will bury this desiccated corpse / already a meal for the buzzards that
hover here?

The joke that passes says, “If you steal from these well-meaning janitors
you will be the first to be swept up in your next life.”

I’m inclined to pass & walk away . . . & yet,
why not these birds?               I mean . . .



                              In the end / there is always / memory

The red color of the flag that hangs on death’s wagon or drapes the box
where Jamie sleeps

is the last your country-men & women will ever know of the blood that was
spilled here.

History is packed with irony & contradiction.   Don’t expect sustenance.
Rather, a snack to oblige & send you blithely on you way.

Look back.

The cabinet is empty / There’s nothing left to claim.


Each drop that falls in the attendant bucket anticipates another soldier

No matter.

There are always more buckets & more bodies to be tossed.

& if it’s one drop at a time /
one drop at a time it shall be.

So, it is said, by the shaman & the priests

who relish the last corpse / as if it were truly the body of hope
brought here to be resurrected

or not.

CCCB (Catalunya Cultural Center Barcelona) September 2004