By the ringing explosion I stumble

through the haze of a sulfurous mist

thick with burned smoke wafting into my nostrils.

There are faint screams, some laughter,

another round of sparkling colors.

I remember China had the first fireworks.

All of them were white.

Europe brought the pigments

which cause the brilliant colors seen today.

 

There is another explosion, someone screams.

I stumble forward, catch myself with my freehand

and continue moving close to the ground,

serpentine, there is another explosion.

Something strikes my head, my back,

I stumble again fighting to get away,

blood is dripping onto my shirt,

down my pants as I clutch the body

trying to reach the edge of the chaos.

 

Something zings past my head,

strikes and explodes in front of me.

Another explosion, someone cries out

and I wonder if they see the blood.

Someone is lighting another cannon

as another goes off, too close

my ears ring, where am I?

I hold tight to the body, stumble again.

“Fire in the hole!” someone cries,

but the smoke is too thick to see.

Where is my neighborhood?

 

I look down at the nub, wonder where his hand is.

He hangs limp, passed out in my arms.

Another explosion, I am deaf, someone grabs me.

He is taken from my arms,

They begin to scream at the sight,

a child, maimed on this day of freedom.

 

The smoke doesn’t clear my head.

Music rises and I hear troops sound the attack.

Bagpipes assume a gentle moan of sadness

down the street after the funeral

and I feel for friends that have met their ends

bleeding into the earth for greed and fear

fighting over lands possessed

by those strangers they called enemies.

 

Turf is a name, burned from the first wars

as tribes fought to rule those near enough

to control then across the sea,

from the back of a horse.

Armies are created in the declaration

of what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.

 

Until..

 

I don’t like your culture and that too must end.

I don’t like your face, your eyes, or your skin

and in their wasted lands we begin again

to force-feed our regurgitated beliefs

digested and refed a thousand times over.

 

Perhaps…

 

One day we will tap into that which separates us

like thumbs from the apes and we will create

with the other instincts a new age

of renaissance will grow from the stem

of gray matter that resides mostly unused

behind the face of fear to fight the fight

which we portray to others hiding

in the rocks and hills grunting to survive

in the waste, after the governments

have crumbled to dust

and the machines begin to rust

 

But remember this…

 

Einstein knew, “World War IV

will be fought with sticks and stones.”

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