It has taken mythic proportions –
this story of a beast
who prowls the central plains
& devours virgins & peasants
like a Minotaur
in the caverns of ancient Crete.
Is he half-bull, half-man
of lore?
But when he sees his face
upon capture
he sees only fear in his eyes
as mobs mill around him
as if to lynch, or try the
shadow of a legend
quickly for his crime…
Does he feel vulnerable,
naked like a child without
his toy armalite
by his side?
So real, so alive,
all cut to size…
But he quickly snaps out
of the momentary doldrums,
returning to his garrison cool.
A secret smile plays on his lips,
as if comforting himself –
everything is OK,
it is a frame up by ignorant mob.
O he’s sure as hell
his gang will spirit
him from the iron trap.
They are sworn
never to leave soldiers behind.

The caged animal
sniffs the iron bars,
then howls in the night
as if wailing for the forest
where he used to roam freely
& devour tribals
like primitive sacrifice…
How could he have lost
his cunning
when slow-witted hunters
managed to set up traps
for him
in the interstices
of the city’s labyrinth?
O How he rues being so
stupidly reckless,
putting his guard down,
like a casual civilian?
The temptation is always
Must he pay
for his salad days?
But he’s innocent,
his mind insists,
of the foul deed they charge
him with!
The law must protect him too –
his loyal eagles
will surely snatch him
from the barbarians
whom he had stopped
with his bare hands.

But why should he confess!
He has nothing to say
like Socrates before the magistrates.
He must keep mum
lest his tongue be twisted
by blood-soaked judges!
Nothing to peek into his soul
but a blank sheet of desire
that his ego will expose.
& to the mothers
who squirm in their seats
in stony silence,
their eyes like revolvers
cocked to fire
at his hair-trigger presence:
O How they wish madly
to lay their hands on him
vulnerable & helpless
like their fire-eating children…
He is like Jesus Christ, his lawyer avers,
set up in pillory
by the ignorant mob.
Evidence is stacked against
his person…
But the Nazi general
spirited out of Argentina
defended himself in the same manner:
he’s a professional soldier,
who performed his duty
in service of dear, old Fuehrer!
Will there be no end
to this mode of persecution?
If they kill me
by firing squad,
or lethal injection,
what will it profit their souls
if I am made to pay
the price?
Can they sleep the sleep
of the just
in those interminable
nights of nightmarish conscience?
Is this blasphemy?
Today, I am proclaimed
a butcher, a criminal.
Tomorrow, they’ll hail
me a state patriot,
hero exemplar
who stayed the Commies
at the Palace gates!
This is all a Pentagon
I am just a commandant
leading a horde of real men.
Even today’s President
aims to scuttle
those pestiferous militants…
We’re on the same boat…
I only leveled it up
to a higher notch…

The gusty wind
from the dark, dark mountains
carries strange voices
over the trees
that ripple mournfully
in the ears
of loved ones
who have stood watch
over the dead’s
long, long disappearance?
It semaphores a howl
of messages
as if rumblings from the underground.
O What does it mean
when they barely understand
the language of ashen spirits?
& if they
can speak clearly,
what will they say?
That it is all the zero-sum
of human existence?
What justice will
balance the scale?
How will the fire in the belly
be kept burning –
& remembering never be
a sad, sad burden?
How to comfort
the dying?
How must the lost
& the damned be appeased
in the history of the living?

So there,
a bystander pontificates,
it is finally asked
of men of supreme wisdom
& lordships of the realm –
what for is their suffering
that can’t be puzzled out
by reason dialectical
& hearts that refuse
Is retribution a heavenly equation?
Why they must be savaged
like sacrificial lambs
& dumped into unholy ground?
Only their names
will be encrypted
by archivists
in search of glory
who draw up the trajectories
of the cause
which will clench its fists
& scream like maddened beasts!
How will they be remembered?
Dots on statistical maps
or flies swatted off
the festive table?
O How to simplify the game
that speaks of endless
of chaos & mankind!

There is a dark place
waiting for him,
a mourner who echoes the mothers’
lament over their daughters
But they won’t cry a river,
if their wish for vengeance
is granted by angels –
even if the testament
would declare it an apostasy…
Blood for blood!
But they won’t give a damn!
Even the rower
would refuse to carry his body
across the river Styx.
& there will be rejoicing
in the lower realm,
even by pious Christians
who swear by God’s
compassionate & even hand!

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