Old Generals

by July 9, 2008 0 comments

He remembers the glory
The triumphs
He speaks of camaraderie unparalleled
He is a caricature, a cliché
The young soldier sees the battle
Up close and bloody
His buddies die around him
Splattered unrecognizable
They are traumatized
And also, are a cliché

The reason is gone
The need for reason, gone
The story is predictable
Each life the same

Old battlefields, national monuments
Young soldiers on leave,
Fresh from new battlefields, still wet with blood,
Stand and look at empty fields
But can hear the cries and explosions
Old generals bring wreaths
Wear medals and sashes
Long deaf to those cries
Long blind to the smoke and still, finally still, bodies
Long bored with the thrill of conquest
Calloused to the moral dilemma
The hard choices –
These young lives
For all those others
The greater good
For this small evil
No purpose is so great, anymore

But young soldiers look for leaders
Someone to follow
To articulate and emote
Only old generals
Wooden icons
To fuel the great ideal

The old generals
Are no longer enamored by any
For them it’s all the same
Bloodshed, glory
No matter, no consequence
Only the haunting of old decisions
Gone wrong
History written
From which no one will learn

The old general looks upon the memorial field
And is embarrassed to catch himself
Indulging in such adolescent fatalism

It’s full circle
In the end, it’s only a green field
Fertilized with old bones
Mulch for the trees

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