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In our time, war seemed perpetual,
an economic fact: pay to build
a bomb, blow it up, pay to build
another bomb, repeat, repeat, repeat.
We stopped asking people of means to send
their kids to die, so war became a kind
of secret in the media—even in the ether:
When the poor fought and died, silence.
After a politician stood, hand
on heart, to signal his respect before a casket;
he’d lunch with lobbyists for a tank or plane,
(maybe less than useful, but you couldn’t tell
when the need might arise). Of course, to afford
all that military hardware, Defense
had to limit soldiers’ pay, which meant
their families stayed on what we called food stamps
to supplement their piss-poor wages. In our time,
most didn’t seem to question why the system
worked that way. The way it worked seemed
to work fine, or fine enough, leave
aside the enlisted. Leave aside that our roads
crumbled, pot-holed and cracked; our bridges
broke apart, collapsed; our trains ran
late on wobbly ties. Our water mains
leached lead and burst. Our schools opened
fewer days. Our libraries shut.
We could have spent our funds on something
besides war. In the battle zones that once
were someone else’s countryside or towns,
ruin, ruin and death, but we lived
far away in dreamy dreams: we gave
our kids their baths; we mowed the lawn; we worked
to pay off the car, the house; we borrowed
and paid off. Would wars never end?
They mutated one into the next.
Have you learned to resist the martial charge,
or are you fighting still for ruined ground?
Copyright 2018 Sandy Solomon