Gary Jacobson


O that I might decipher war’s fire and brimstone lessons
Might once more smell life’s bounteous blossoms
Once more here in the world… beyond the dawn
Where have all the flowers gone?

I see men staring, but they don’t have a clue
What in the world has happened to me, to you
Standing silent as statues draped in bright crimson
O where, O where is war’s great lesson?

Have we learned life’s lessons, learned them at all
Or are we but sounding belligerent battle’s thrall
Young princes who answer the call, be it wrong or right
Smacking bloodthirsty lips ready for the next gory fight?

War birth’s both reason and illogical obsession
Peace in benevolence, pathological hatred’s oppression.
Intemperate youth is too ready to ride carnivorous whirlwinds
Too impatient to go wherever war’s bestial ogre sends.

From virile youth, anxious to ride life’s roller-coaster
Toasting that recruitment arm-twister:
All hale the war supporter
Who lured a nation’s princes to some jungle backwater.

O that I would not have to again fight them
But I must, in meaningless again and again regimen…
Taught at the heels of the master warrior,
Reveling uproarious in the gladiatorial fight, this preacher.

War brings battalions of students, brimstone senses to learn
Sparkling with inflamed passions in battle to earn
As war’s cantankerous contagions around them churn
Legions beset by optimism and depression on every turn.

War makes some atheists into God loving humanists
While making some God loving men atheists
Sent back from the sinful world apologists
Jumping at every sound, these war weary alarmists.

Some forever in their hearts correct lessons of war learn
They hear God’s “Peace on Earth,” for which they yearn
While others can only say, “Burn baby, burn.”
Bring ‘em on, it’s their turn to learn.

Some are controlled by the roll of the dice
In war caused by men’s callous greed and avarice.
Some repeat war’s same old mistakes with reticence
Living thirty-five years, one-at-a-time, in sublime indifference.

War does the carnal in man inspire
Brings back to life memory of Nam’s painful funeral pyre
But warriors emerge through the mouth of holy fire
Leap through heat and noxious flames burning dire.

Forevermore in old warriors the war’s conflagration influences
Having learned by the sword cultural differences.
Not with joined wisdom of thirty-five years deference
Seek the ephemeral peace, an abiding preference.

Old warriors have seen war’s rewards first hand
Know well qualities of peace, compassion, love, first hand:
Helping other brothers struggle with angers
Living by the kindness of strangers.

Old warriors help others get through hellish PTSD;
Help future generations to see…
Learn from veterans surviving the great holocaust called war
What war’s really for, at the core.

O, observe those who’ve ridden this bestial carnivore
Felt prolonged hatred on their soul’s bore
Felt war’s might in bruised body and spirit sore
Now vowing not to let war happen, anymore.

We send our sons across the heartbreak sea
Quite sane, well educated, vibrantly alive
We hand them a gun… tell them killers they now be
And hope they can hell survive.

Day by day they struggle to conquer lingering depression
War’s repression of values, our nation’s constant obsession.
Learn to “Walk softly but carry the big stick,”
Fighting only a last resort, should in hearts turn war’s shtick.