The Protesting Dead
by Michael Brett

Now let us meet the protesting dead:

Let us go as they went, like salmon,
As the tides of everything receded,
As the lighthouse shells lit the noisy ocean of the end.

Let us leave the memorial obelisk
With its single finger raised like the kindly rebuke
Of an Italian saint in a beautiful painting;

These are not the commuting dead:
In stone rows as if on train seats.

Beneath lying headstones, in mass graves,
The fighting dead may have liked to speak
Of the beauty that shone in cartridge cases,
Aircraft wings, of friendship, youth and laughter
Sharpened to warÕs one end: intensified.

Their raised hands, some taller heads, brush the flower roots of the end:
Poppies, thistles.
Some wear holy medals,
Some carry holy flags
As if still pacing the narrow flagstones of their war.

But around them -around here- are the protesting dead:
Graveless, homeless, in clouds, lowing, looking for names,
Looking for loved ones.

They do not see the fighting dead, do not hear them
Though they walk among them as if among locusts
Or the smoke of burning towns, shielding their eyes.

Copyright © 2013 - Michael Brett
Published: 1/31/13   ·  Author's Page   ·  Next Poem