Fall1

By Sean Gunning

Quick, boys! goatee guitar man’s eyes implore,
conscious few are singing.
Black dude’s base cords bore
through my brain, like bullets thumping.

Pop beside me, peacock proud,
heart bent double, nerves knock-kneed,
soul and mind and spirit bowed
for his faith, for himself, for me.

“All war is about deception.”
Are you kiddin’ me? A homily
on war? A benediction
to make my ears bleed?

I’m back from Iraq not five days
and that’s how his sermon’s started.
Time to be flayed,
excommunicated, martyred….

And what’s with the iPad
and quoting from Sun Tzu?
The Art of War. You seeing this dad?
Okay preacher? Let’s go – me and you!

“Are we at war sisters and brothers?”
(a gentle probe),
“Are we, sisters and brothers?”
(asks the broad-shouldered man in the long, white robe).

“YES! YES, WE ARE AT WAR!
WHO ARE WE AT WAR WITH JASON?”
(roared towards the side exit door)

…. “YES! SATAN!”

Fifteen minutes of fire and fury
ricocheting from tabernacle to tinkling Sanctus bell.
Explosions for the Almighty,
shocking his flock from the path that leads to hell.

“WE NEED TO WAKE UP AND FIGHT!
WE ARE AT WAR, SISTERS AND BROTHERS!”
(roared with all his might)
“GOD NEEDS FIGHTERS!”

I know. War with Satan and Satan’s ways.
But in war what’s right; what’s wrong?
How do you read an Iraqi’s gaze?
How on this green and blue earth do we get along

with those who want us dead
and our children too?
Is it truly wrong – Army strong – to lead
with freedom’s sword, like your friend did for you?

Your holy might
won’t stop a roadside bomb.
You know there’s dark and light.
You know what’s been lost and won.

You know what I’ve done.
But I’m still here, on my knees.
I can’t survive that desert sun
without your eyes in mine to help me see.

I go back in nineteen days.
You know how many lives depend on me.
Jesus, please, bring us all safely home – us and them, I pray.
Dulce et decorum non est pro patria mori.

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