John-Ward Leighton

OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD

just risen from my bed
slept last night like I was dead
checked out my old e mail
got the usual blast from the past

the governor general will attend
as the plane carrying Cpl Martin’s body descends
as the poor lad’s life came to an end
one day before his twenty-fifth

a sad Xmas for his family and friends
his life gone on a battlefield far away
to what end I cannot say
in this war there is no brighter day

I was indulged yesterday
talked with my son and daughter
who are far away
there was no need to dread the day

we promised to talk again on Xmas day
spoiled by not having to attend
a wake, a tribute, and the sorrow
for a fallen friend

I served in less dangerous times
basically a fun sixteen years
they gave out medals for our NATO duty
when they allowed us into the middle class

we played our war games
with our deadly toys
making big bangs and lots of what seemed
like important noise

we did our peace keeping chores
much to the joy of the foreign bar tenders and the whores
separating the sheep from the goats
keeping ancient enemies from slitting each other’s throats

and the deadly mix of religious zeal and nationalism
sweeps us still closer to the cataclysm
while the deadly mix of greed and class war
is eating away at our society from within

the day is coming soon
the shortest of the year
and the New Year is filled with dread
at least what I can imagine

that ancient Chinese curse
may you live in interesting times
a future filled with existential dread
and dreadful rhymes

off the top of my head.

John-Ward Leighton: Off The Top Of My Head