There it was--that first wave of bravado without regard for the lives and deaths of thousands which would inevitably follow. The Civil War began with brave shouts and cannon fire 150 years ago. The cost of slavery as well as the cost of that war were also inevitable and is still being paid.
Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque. His work appears mostly on the web as he spends SASE and reading fee dollars on flowers for his lover. Visit his website for more information.
HOURS AFTER SUMTER
The great wrong, our original sin,
the wound that discolors our freedom claimed—
we will pay now with the stoney gaze
of men who blankly stare at the sky above
all to wield the axe that slices the fetters,
the bonds and shackles that hold a million men
unable to collect the reward for their long labor
in fields far from their continent without cold.
Alas, the dead we will tally, with numbers
far greater than those spouted by the glory seekers.
And how our hearts will tremble
when some once quiet town’s name is uttered,
where the trenches dug demand long rows of supine men
whose names remain unmarked on any wood or stone.
Oh, how I fear the widows’ tears; how they may flood
the land now hardened with patriotic fervor.
--Kenneth P. Gurney
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