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THE SPOILS OF PEACE

"I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study philosophy."..John Adams

How impertinent is real blood, as always,
To those not bleeding from all the little wars
On every continent; these tremors
From the plates of earth shifting into place
From the molten core of men’s hate;
Rage like lava fills the streets and swamps-
Yet I sit in these comfortable gardens
And contemplate, and contemplate.

I have never been to the battlefield-
True, I grew up with toy soldiers and plastic guns,
Watched the D-day footage in black and white,
Waved at parades with the flags of cotton candy.

I lived aloof, and never called to serve.
In truth, what do I really know of war?
What lament can I add to centuries
Of odes to the warriors’ graves
To present myself as a man of peace?

The last world war is forgotten to statistics.
Our foes are now our friends.
I inherited philosophy, the pilgrimage
Of some sort of morality of the mind.
The victor that wins the spoils!

Now, what I call philosophy you might call faith.
I knell to scrolls and spoken words,
And, as instructed by the ancient priests,
To question all that’s written on the wall.

We philosophers don’t go to battlefields.
But we still like a good war movie.

Editing stage: 

Comments

I write of wars a few times, but have as you never been in a battle, though I have been in war areas, mostly Terrorists as in Africa and I spent a while with the UN in Cyprus many years ago.
I have seen the effect of war on people and been with them in bad times.
I feel that it is good to be able to try and write of their pain and thoughts, but as always it is a worry that it may be badly written and not do them justice.
Being born in 1942 in the UK I use my first memory as D Day 6 June 1944 as I can remember the whole sky being filled with aircraft and I was only 2 and three months old but it stayed in my head all those years,
Good write but let your imagination run with these things and see what you can come up with..
Yours Ian..

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Yours as always, Ian.T, Sparrow, and Yenti

I have a good workshop group that meets weekly and some good suggestions made had me edit the poem to the above. I included the inspiration of the poem, a quote by Adams, 2nd President. (The one who also said "you will never be alone with a poet in your pocket". Imagine our current president saying that!) The poem is part satire of the failure of philosophy to prevent war as much about the absurdity of it.
Currently I do poetry workshops with 2 groups in DC- asylum seekers and refugee organizations. The stories I hear all the time are so horrific as to almost defy any use of the imagination.

War will not end until men cease to be tribal, and we stop glorifying combat from early age, and with war movies (of factual histories to star wars, or hobbits.) This violence is absorbed into the soul.
We are all guilty. Including philosophers who have reaped the spoils in the brief peace times.

Eumolpus
I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment

...from a cinema in ypres, armed with a notepad and pen?

nice write, well thought.

g

I have written several poems on war. At 12 I fought a tribal war without much arms but with Juju. My grandfather was a high priest to Atim Akpo Ebot, so I grew up a typical African the traditional way. In my locality 8 year old learn how to shoot and make certain protection charms. I know how useless war can be and the terrible things the casualties suffer, maybe soon I will post my poem Tribal War.

Hommies

Yes, I am very fortunate. In a sense, war is incomprehensible to me. Yet is all around us, daily in the news or entertainment. But how can the anything like the real thing, when people die in front of you?

From Africa there have been several short films and documentaries about children, like you, who were part of tribal wars. Very riveting. Somehow you seem to have survived with some sanity, or at least a poet's sanity.
I would love to see more of your poetry. Love also to hear about those charms, too!

Eumolpus
I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment
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