The shadow well
First Song of the Dead
Stand up, Soldier, ring the bell,
ring it for yourself as well.
Sentry, shut your telescope,
surrender your horizon’s hope.
Climb up, Deacon, to the tower,
pull the rope and ring the bell.
The butterfly burns on its flower.
Gunner, you will die as well.
Ask the bloody Brigadier
why I shat myself in fear
but never emptied out the bucket
and just told him to go fuck it.
And ask the ribboned Generals
talking in luxurious halls
if they tremble where they sit
while I rot in a common pit.
Survivor, go ask Presidents
Does this sacrifice makes sense?
And will the international liars
negotiate to quench these fires?
Around this blaze, fierce shadows grope
inward to quench any hope.
Pull the rope, ring the bell
What else is there left to tell?
Pull the rope, ring the bell,
wind blows in an empty shell.
Like a flickering from hell
light flecks in the shadow well.
from The Blue Butterfly (Salt, 2006 / Shearsman, 2011), © Richard Berengarten 2006, used by permission of the author.