by Evan Mantyk
These are the weathered shoes worn by the Jew,
So cracked from all the miles walked since he fled.
These are the slave’s strong legs like trunks that grew
And worked so hard until he’s beaten dead.
This is the heart of Christians who’re hemmed in
by beasts, while Romans laugh at them and yell.
These poisoned lips of Socrates destined
To die, and yet in virtue ever dwell.
This banner is the shield of Spartan men
Outnumbered by a thousand foes to one;
Its moral words in Chinese, Zhen-Shan-Ren,
Are spears of truth that no one can outrun.
The Falun Gong man now before you stands,
A hero for all times and for all lands.
Once again, I am going to explore the poetry of war during November. This year I will be highlighting poetry from conflicts from around the world and across time. If you are in the camp that you only partake of positive poetry as defense to the insanity of the current state of things, then you may want to just take November off from Fourteenlines and come back in December. Part of me is tempted to do the same….
I have often contemplated whether the gravity of a war poets words are weighted by whether they died in the conflict? If you revisit prior November posts, there are many examples where the tragedy of the poetry is heightened because it is underpinned by the tragedy of the poet’s senseless death. However, there is hope hidden in many of those words as well. Poetry can be as effective in creating political change as guns, even when it is at its most raw. Poetry is an instrument of change that endures if enough people take the time to be challenged by words meant to inflame peace with as much conviction as the cacophony of the clever profiteers of war.
Unlike in years past, I will not be adding commentary this year to the poems I post. I am having a hard time finding much meaningful to say at the present. I choose instead to do what I can do, keep showing up, keep sharing poems I find interesting, hoping that some of the poems resonate with readers in ways that spark an interest in some shape or fashion. I wish you well this month of November. In the modest intent of zen tradition, may each of us find a future that is workable. May we all find a path that we can walk this November, even among the bomb craters, to come out the other side, into a more peaceful December.
by Yacheslav Konoval
Once on Thursday, I woke up weak,
having been covered with a warm quilt,
with a merciless temperature,
I am dying, and I am bleak.
Like a pendulum,
hearing the run of strikes in the clock’s click.
Laying in bed, I had exhausted from the undead,
I am similar to a sickly chick.
Contemplate on the white pills,
that had become the color of capitulation.
Please, God, stop all human ills,
overcome the pains, and be a healthy nation.