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.

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