Nice big war

Nice big war

A nice big war came through
Just a century ago.
There but for God’s grace we go;
It barely left a trace of woe,
But if you till the soil you’ll find
Shards of the most peaceful bones,
Displaced from their earthly homes –
But at least they do not lie alone.

A great big army marched in
Over pebbles and stones
To the beat of ledgers and loans,
To the ringing of telephones;
They left wine stains on the map
On the campaign room floor
Over each new border drawn,
Levelled for a lighter morn.

A nice big war came through here
Just a decade ago,
Implanted here an embryo:
A seed that may or may not grow.
A fresh flag was unfurled
In colours we’d not seen before,
And a statue of a foreign man
With a statute in his foreign hand.

His great big army marched in
Across our coats and our tongues.
Taught a new song to be sung,
A new knot from which to be hung.
They left cigarette ash on the map
On the campaign room floor,
With scribbled quips in the margins droll,
With empty bottles of alcohol.

A nice big war came through here
Just a year ago last week.
The information has begun to leak,
But of certain things we can’t yet speak.
Propaganda from both sides
Is sent to water our crops:
We relive the worst and best of times
By reading in-between the lines;

But a great big army now patrols
Our city streets by night
For a golden king in a tinfoil crown,
Or an olden-days king in a cling film gown.
There are volumes of epic verse
That nobody can read
Being burnt for warmth by candlelight
Through our inhospitable winter nights;

A nice big war came to stay
With us just yesterday.
“There but for God’s grace…” we say,
For he works in a mysterious way,
Implanting here an embryo:
A seed that may or may not grow.
The information has begun to leak,
But of certain things we won’t yet speak:

Of an emperor with an ermine gown;
Of a kaiser with a crude-oil crown;
Of the statues of the foreign man;
Of the statutes signed by his foreign hand;
Of maps we draw on prison cell floors;
Of bullet holes in bolted doors.
To work out what it’s all been for
We need a great big army,
A nice big war.

 

Appears in:
Rhymes for all times [2015]

video:

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