There was a war, and as with all wars,
Glory fell dead in her boots the first week.
The Orthodox priests were there as we boarded the trains.
They blessed us,
Made the sign of the cross and assured us
That the God who made us, down to the smallest sinew and bone,
Wished for us to be shoveled
Into the fire of insanity
Which breeds behind the shining eyes of rulers.
What did we care about the French, licking pastry crumbs from their fingers,
Or the English?
At Masurian Lakes and Tannenburg, we were guided to our doom by imbeciles,
And for what?
Let Willie have Poland;
We cared nothing for it.
We cared for bread, and shoes, and getting the lice out of our hair.
The Little Father came to rally us--
He did not carry the stars inside his coat.
No sign of Divine favor radiated from him.
He was a runt;
I wanted to stand him on a crate and then face the crate toward an executionary detail.
He would fall, you know,
Just as we did.
The next day,
My horse was hit in the flank, and the wound became infected.
I had to shoot him myself.
That was different, a greater obscenity,
Than killing strangers for no reason;
I realized that our beasts,
Dumb brutes that they were,
Compared to the imps who compelled us to be part of this.
There was a war, and like all wars,
It was a devil bathing in blood,
Washing filthy vileness into us
And setting screaming nightmares loose inside our riven skulls.
So don't ask me to tell you about it--
I left my tongue there,
Torn out and mute,
Fodder for empire,
Profaned and lying speechless in the mud.
for Real Toads weekend challenge. Photograph by Talon.