Here we are wet and moldy in a trench.
Here we are in World War One.
Here we are in France.
You can be a German if you want.
I’ll be British or maybe French.
We are warring brothers of the trenches
We smell of rotting corpses all around.
We are both wet and muddy,
Stumbling to fit our gas masks on our faces.
Somebody’s sent our way the mustard gas.
We don’t know if it’s from them or us.
The winds are variable that way.
There weren’t supposed to be but here we are gasping.
The machine guns have stopped spitting death.
The air’s the color of mustard
And everything’s still and quiet.
You feel in another world
And you almost relish the moment.
You don’t expect to survive this shithole war.
You want to ask one of your buddies
In the trench to kick you in the ass
For allowing your stupid self to get in such a pickle.
We were all such dum-dum bullets.
If you’d become a chemist instead
You might have invented a ketchup gas
That could nullify the mustard gas.
You’d relish the idea that all the poison
Gasses could be named for garnishes
As hurricanes were named for women.
I’d make a mayonnaise gas that melts
A soldier’s skin into a pasty white.
A peanut butter gas that when it clogs
Inside the body causes a slow death
In the shape of a peanut shell.
A butter gas that makes you dream,
Before you die, of a better world,
Smooth and creamy. Both you and I
Will float above our trenches in the
Butter gas beyond at last all the farce
Of nationalism, away from racist
And homophobic cracks, to embrace
As only human lovers are able,
Dreaming to a transcendent space.
Seeking the ultimate condiment of compassion. Please! – mh clay