Innocent Bystanders
(From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley)

“Collateral” once meant a surety
A word that guaranteed a loan repaid
But now it means an insecurity

A type of damage in a bombing raid
Some innocents who die for being there
Bystanders killed by bombers unafraid

Who drop their loads from three miles in the air
Or fling them from their ships and submarines
Destroying things in no need of repair

And lives unlived for having Arab genes
Some rag-head camel jockeys all alike
Who ought to be in jail if in their teens

“Of military age” means prone to strike
Increased resistance we just call a “spike”

So after years of “spiking” every day
And corners turned by tipping points and such
The garbage keeps exploding in a spray

Of shrapnel robbing fingers of their touch
As hands and wrists and elbows disappear
A mission that accomplished nothing much

Accomplishes still less with each new year
While costs of non-accomplishing increase
Diminishing returns have made it clear

That soon all this accomplishing will cease
Or else the Great Success will score such gains
As then to drown in its own grisly grease

A summing up of war’s enormous pains
That shows how much it pours when once it rains

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2006-2010