By Robert Bernhard, World BEYOND War, November 16, 2020


Blood on the altar,
the Altar of War.

Ah, yes,
And Country.
Individual courage, too,
Stretched through the limit of Life
to lives lost,
sad horns blowing
the same tune for sleep
as death.

Many have all called it worthy,
so they don’t have to say
war is wasted souls,
glamour and glory
offered to survivors
rather than name anyone
an incomplete sacrifice.
Offer accepted,
Mongers of War continue
not to get dirty, or wet,
or bloodied,
or covered with sweat
from hurrying to wait,
or from work,
or fear and tensions
of murder
coursing through their veins.

We all die,
soldiers and civilians,
for those Mongers,
for their filled wallets,
not for freedom,
not for anyone’s freedom.

Some died,
and we all cried then,
for ourselves as much as
the dead.
And now, at The Wall,
we cry for that one,
and that one,
and that one,
that name on The Wall,
each name on The Wall.

Each name on The Wall
is us.
We cried then,
and we cry now,
not for someone who was
close or a piece of us,
but for someone who was
each of us,
for “I”.

When we laugh and sing
of god and glory,
we cry.
We cry for the blood of “I”
spilt on the altar of god,
the altar of every god
there ever was.
For every god there ever was
has had an Altar of War
for the blood of “I” to drip on,
to pour on.

We cry
for even as The Wall’s list
is us, is “I”,
so, too, are the Mongers of War,
who are so clean, privileged,
free of gore, easy living, rich
with money printed in
“I” blood on “I” hides,
with enough profit to buy
everyone a dog tag,
to make us all think the “we”
we are is not an “I.”

We cry because “I” dies
for a god whose name
no one knows,
even for a god who would
sacrifice his own son,
and allow his son’s blood to
justify more war.

Alleluia, I am “I.”
I am thou.
I am that.
I am that I am that I may be.

Even though I served and
am not proud,
still I am
thankful to be thanked,
and welcome being welcomed home.
I need to be thanked
and welcomed home.
And while I cry because
“I” died,
I wonder why,
wonder why god doesn’t die,
why we don’t demand
that god die
on the altar of “I”
that we all might live in a
warless peace,
loving each other

to the point of “I.”

About the author:

I am what I call a cynically satirical retired hippie curmudgeon, who is still into peace, love and hair, survived the 60’s & 70’s one-at-a-time purge from the streets of hippies who were vocally part of that supposed ‘revolution’, by losing my gullible naivety, nor selling out by becoming a yuppie, only worked under the table jobs (mostly helping people out in exchange for food and shelter while working, my idea being no taxes from me would feed into politicians’ pockets or their for-profit war machine – my personal revolution, as I, with undiagnosed PTSD, hitchhiked back and forth for twenty years, going from Alaska to Panama, unsuccessfully searching for a people to call family (I was disowned by my conservative Midwest blood family when I returned stateside) and a place to call home. I did find a ‘person’, (more like she found me), once I quit moving around, at the 1100 acre clothing optional hot spring resort I was living and working at as Night Security, my wife of now 31 years, who was at that time working at Stanford University with her Masters Degree in child psychology (Robert Plant was wrong, thinking women DO have souls), coming to the resort on weekends, immediately after we met we left the resort’s hedonism for monogamy to caretake a ranch surrounded by 15,000 acres of BLM land, then, with a full boat scholarship, she studied for, got her PhD in Education, then became a practicing professor promoting art in education, teaching teachers-to-be, our ‘place’ always wherever by dreams and signs Spirit led us to be, which as of this moment has been in the SW US since we met in 1989.

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