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Jessica Davis 1986 (Canada)

The boys wear their own blood like regal, red, robes
Lying as if sleeping in the gutters or upon the sidewalk
Blood flowing down over their eyes like a dying dawn
Red sky in the morn, sailors be warned
And when the rains come to mourn
The smell of the boys blood, crawls mute, down every road
Metallic and salty and thick, their eternal stench
-- Mute and stinking down every road

The Girls wear their grandmother's shawls and rain boots to sell their love in the night
And they wander 'round their mind, dreaming of princes and Lancelot
Until he takes his fill of The Girls' pride, and decency, and soul
Holy God, is there no mercy? Sweet Jesus, see me here!
At dusk they prick their finger with a sewing needle
Letting free the ruby sphere that was trapped beneath
A pretty, glistening gem, they take great care
They paint their hollow faces with the ruby
And with the ruby they paint their lips
-- Hollow face; Healthy glow; Healthy face; Hollow glow

A choir of children sing an opera of despair
A tortured aria of loss and fear and fright
Sometimes they play and bid their kite to flight
But then loud noises come and the kite floats down, dead
Loud pops at midnight, loud pops at midday
A child wets themselves, frozen in terror
Their mother runs to get them (POP POP) and now she sleeps in the gutters with The Boys
-- Falling between them, eyes wide in death, donning a red robe of her very own

As he runs over to his dead mother, cradling her limp neck...
And now, at least, her boy will be with her in their Long Sleep

Beneath a willow tree at dawn an old lady sits in the grass
She holds a screaming baby, little arms aflash
Her eyes are there, but vacant; Her body's there but she is not
Forth degree burns cover her face, just like the Phantom of the Opera
A Father and his Nuns approach her gently and take the babe from her arms
"Please, that is my grandson. His parents and siblings are all dead.
"I'm the only one he has left!"
"He is safe with us," the Father assures her
Then she lay down
"You have done all you can."
Her head lolls from one end to the other
"Take this boy! Do not kill the baby!"
"I could never do him harm."
Her lolling stilled, her body, still laying in the grass,
Gives up her ghost at last
For there are no such things as War Crimes until the War is over.
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Written on August 28, 1986

Submitted by Elspeth on December 31, 2021

Modified by Elspeth on December 31, 2021

2:18 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic hexameter
Characters 2,319
Words 458
Stanzas 5
Stanza Lengths 8, 10, 8, 3, 16

Jessica Davis

I have been writing poetry since I was a teenager with multiple publications and awards. more…

All Jessica Davis poems | Jessica Davis Books

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    "War" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 29 May 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/116828/war>.

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