The Misfortune Teller ("Dragooned and Bullied Ex-Patriot")

Dragooned and Bullied Ex-Patriot
(From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley)

In early manhood’s time they came for us
Distressed that we might plot a course our own
And not one pledged to serve their animus

We had begun to reap what they had sown;
From seeds of dragons’ teeth sprang fighting men
On fields of battle far from homeland grown.

Yet grim news filtered back both now and then
Of great success that almost had expired
From using up its youth time and again

A great success, indeed, that then required
A fresh transfusion of the red supply
Of winning fights, old Pyrrhus never tired

Yet few could smell the stinking, reeking lie:
Our youth was spent for what the old would buy

And so to mask just what they had in store
For us who had no choice and lived in dread,
They tried to feed us patriotic lore

Designed to earn our trust but not our bread
But when that didn’t work as warfare bait
They switched to using threat of jail instead

They worked on us from early dawn till late:
The Press, the Church, the School, the Law combined
To wipe us blank of thought as any slate

The Great Success abroad seemed to have dined
On all the easy lives it could obtain;
And yet it hungered still for our young kind

Our leaders, though, felt not the slightest pain
To them we meant no loss but only gain

Some Fear Itself had seeped into our land:
Reactionary Panic, Mystic Dread,
And Abstract Anger gained the upper hand.

Then fearing “communists” beneath each bed
The Best and Brightest shipped us overseas
To shoot a bad idea in the head

Despite some vaguely heard pathetic pleas
From those whose brains had better things to think
The ones in charge cared only for their ease

They hesitated not, nor did they shrink,
As they from off our backs our freedoms flayed
They sent us to a swamp to swim or sink

Our youth again found its young self betrayed
To die from history our elders made

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2006