There was no reason for the first world war, we simply had the assets—huge cannons, machine guns, etc. And money to be made in building and stockpiling these huge weapons. There were a few intelligent people who cried out, but the goons who ran the circus could not be deterred, and there was always the crowd—the mob. The machine gun mowed down thousands in a single battle, rendering the epic warrior and the epic poet equally irrelevant. I have written this before.
Romantic poetry too died during the war, according to Virginia. The faces of the rulers seen in the flash of cannon fire, so ugly, so stupid, she wrote. But the war was over, thank god. Still, a hundred years later we are still fighting it, if you understand your history. For the same reasons.
Wilfred Owen tried to tell us, but no one ever really listens. Instead we wrap ourselves in clichés about God and country, about freedom—though who is truly free. It appears that someone has to die, die by the hundreds of thousands, by the millions. Three to four million Vietnamese were slaughtered so we could free them. We don’t know how many Iraqis died—a million or more. Better them than us, Lindsey Graham said the other day when talking about the Korean peninsula. Better them than us, referring to Japanese and Korean farmers and cooks and merchants. When the war begins again, when the goons have had their way—anyone speaking out against it—
He once suggested that, at least during times of conflict, that the war be paid for by taxing the profits of the arms makers. We can’t deny them their profits, a cousin said. Profit being a sacred world. Profit more important than love, compassion, truth—
It is the poet’s duty, he says to a very small audience, to declare that every moment, every breath, every life is sacred. That the least of these is the creation, is God. The poet, if she is worth her salt, must somehow try to convey the importance of each heart beat. To be unaware, to lose contact with this truth, is to lose one’s soul.
He sips his coffee. Takes a breath. Meditates on what he must do today.