Juan Lopez and John Ward
It was their luck to be born into a strange time.
The planet had been parceled out among various countries, each
one provided with loyalties, cherished memories, with a past
undoubtedly heroic, with rights, with wrongs, with a particular
mythology, with bronze forefathers, with anniversaries, with
demagogues and symbols.
This arbitrary division was favorable for wars.
Lopez was born in the city beside the tawny river; Ward, on the
outskirts of the city where Father Brown walked. He had
studied Spanish in order to read Quijote.
The other one professed a love for Conrad, who had been revealed
to him in a classroom on Viamonte Street.
They might have been friends, but they saw each other face to
face only once, on some overly famous islands, and each one of
them was Cain, and each was Abel.
They were buried together. Snow and corruption know them.
The incident I mention occurred in a time that we cannot understand.
by Jorge Luis Borges
They speak of the art of war,
but the arts
draw their light from the soul’s well,
dries up the soul and draws its power
from a dark and burning wasteland.
set his genius to devising
machines of destruction he was not
acting in the service of art,
he was suspending
the life of art
over an abyss,
as if one were to hold
a living child out of an airplane window
at thirty thousand feet.
by Denise Leverton
Speaking: The Hero
I did not want to go.
They inducted me.
I did not want to die.
They called me yellow.
I tried to run away.
They courtmartialed me.
I did not shoot.
They said I had no guts.
I cried in pain.
They carried me to safety.
In safety I died.
They blew taps over me.
They crossed out my name
And buried me under a cross.
They made a speech in my home town.
I was unable to call them liars.
They said I gave my life.
I had struggled to keep it.
They said I set an example
I had tried to run.
They said they were proud of me.
I had been ashamed of them.
They said my mother should be proud.
My mother cried.
I wanted to live.
They called me a coward.
I died a coward.
They called me a hero.
by Felix Pollak
This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.
Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed – or were killed – on this ground
hollowed by the neglect of an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.
by William Stafford
Give Back Peace
Give back father, give back mother,
Give back grandpa, give back grandma,
Give back boys, give back girls.
Give me back myself, give me back men
Linked to me.
As long as men live as men,
Give back peace,
Peace that never crumbles.
by Sankichi Toge
After every war
someone has to clean up.
straighten themselves up, after all.
Someone has to push the rubble
to the sides of the road,
so the corpse-laden wagons can pass.
Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
and bloody rags.
Someone must drag in a girder
to prop up a wall.
Someone must glaze a window,
rehang a door.
Photogenic it's not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.
Again we'll need bridges
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.
Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls how it was.
and nods with unsevered head.
Yet others milling about
already find it dull.
From behind the bush
sometimes someone still unearths
and carries them to the garbage pile.
Those who knew
what was going on here
must give way to
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.
In the grass which has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out,
blade of grass in his mouth,
gazing at the clouds.
A Polish poet
She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996. She died in 2002, at the age of 101.
War is our hardened hearts,
war is our sickened stomachs
war is the Devil’s laughing eyes.
For so often are we near the edge
that when Evil may betray us
into Satan’s den we stray.
So easily unresisting and sheep-like.
Taking the easy way, the path of least resistance,
crossing the thin line that we humans oftimes tread,
into all manner of cruelty and sinfulness.
Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit