Gettysburg, Redux–a poem by Nolo Segundo


A poem by Nolo Segundo

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Now the happy soldiers
Go to fight again the battle,
Marching bravely forty abreast
With heavy muskets shouldered,
Yelling their cries of pain and glory
As they face the cold cannon
Barking like a pack of mad dogs.

Down they go in ones and twos,
And sometimes in little bunches,
Collapsing together as though
Put to sleep by the fairy dust
Of long-forgotten dreams.

Both sides feel the urge
To kill, to step the victor
O’er their brothers’ bones.
Grown men playing—yes
Even perhaps a bit silly—but
Maybe, just maybe,
Some of them are unaware
Of their own anguished deaths
There on that sweating day
Not really so very long ago.

At seventeen I went to that town
To talk of my education and
In the warm afternoon
I meandered mindlessly
Amidst the boulders named
Fearfully for Satan’s lair.
There suddenly, terribly,
While walking between two
Of the giant stones, my body
Shuddered, an awful shaking
That shook me to the core
Of my soul, but then I did not yet
Know we never die only once.


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