The Gift

Since it’s the time of year when we remember the victims of war (and are reminded daily of its horrors in news from Ukraine), I thought I’d share one of my occasional war poems today. This is an old one, from my first collection, Sea Without a Shore.

The Gift

He gave his life, they said
as if it were some little thing
he thought might be more use to someone else.

And true, there was a time
when, drunk on martial sentiments and songs,
and for some noble end, he would have given.
But not for fifty yards of mud
long stripped of all that’s beautiful or green.
Not even worms would think it worth their while.

For this, his life was swindled from him,
so he thought, as in his hole
he felt it drain away:
but in the end, when twenty thousand lives like his
were not enough to pay the mortgage on that land,
not even swindled, merely stolen.  
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