The Poetry of War


The Poetry of War

Bill Engleson

They have brought me here.

Ambulance attendants rummaged amongst the bloodied, dismantled bodies,

seeking any breath of life, some semblance of hope.

Hospital meat we are.



I am but one who momentarily is spared.

Half-buried in mud.

A limb nearly shorn from my body.

The arm attached to a hand, a hand that once wrote polite verse.

Trivial verse.

I see you in the lavender sky,

Your scent flowing into me on a gentle breeze.

I see you in the lilac sky,

In memory lost, tide turned into the tortured sea.

Poets should not go to war.

We die so easily.

We are not alone in that.

So many others die in war.

One can lose track of the numbers.

The numbers are large.

No one can appreciate their size.

Perhaps the generals know.

They know soldiers are dying in bunches,

all those young flowers poised to bloom,

dying in unison,

unfulfilled, cast aside, their lives wilted.


When she walks, there is a grating sound between her legs,

as if she is made of starch.

She is no longer a woman.

No longer soft and smelling of lavender.

Her heart is hardened.

There is no light in her eyes.

There is no light in mine.

Time does not diminish

Wars persistent nightmares.

Peace does not mark finish

To all the night terrors.

She brings me pen and paper.

My right hand is immobile.

I seek pain to know that it can feel.

My left hand seeks a muse.

My heart, my brain seeks the shape of beauty.

There are no words that come to me, nothing that gives it meaning.

There is no meaning in war.

there is no beauty in war.

War is death.

The poetry of war is the grave.