The Deconstructed

War is a coy word for such a murderous adventure.
Unflinching and immodest its intentions remain hidden until the first casualty
Lies motionless as though it never existed.

War is glorious, young boys were told, to make them giddy for battle
But then Owen dared tell the truth about those “stuttering rifles…”
His truth
But also a shared truth,
Unmissable from the mystified countenances of men
Hobbling, twitching, prison-shuffling back home
With that demented repetition of images, thoughts,
That intimate awareness of the human anatomy.

Every war deconstructs.
The heart conflicted by the din and the bloodletting
Turns you into a Septimus Warren Smith

But the army employs, making warfare a profession
You can learn to be good at it,
Good at protecting the innocent, protecting yourself
Good at killing.
Broken-down and reassembled
You become ‘capable’ of spending the lives of others
Initiated martyrs like yourself
Abundant and ordinary.

Then the time comes to come home.
Something comes home,
Altered and extraordinary

A human Indexical with multiple meanings
Splintered and vague,
The ‘I’ denoting a collection of trained identities
Only valid in that realm of conflict,
Untransferable and alienating
An impenetrable state
Sedated but omnipresent like a subliminal Devil,
The Deconstructed brings war home.

Now the veterans line up for a photograph,
Hands lie still. Hands that held rifles clutch walking sticks
Hands that pulled triggers listlessly clasp each other

Withered relics carrying a unique remembrance of that withered past.
Of the Nameless left behind; scattered like twigs, mournfully isolated and purposeless,
Unable to rise up from the earth sweetened with death

They lay still, in that glorious silence.