They Also Serve
(in the Gaelic Bardic verse style)

Gone to soldiers every one
Mother's son so brave and true
Looked his duty in the eye
Saying, "I will serve for you."

Father's daughter: joy and pride
Did not hide from duty's due
Serving in this grievous time
Saying, "I'm a soldier, too."

Not for them to choose the fight
Others might who stay behind
Handing out the new bank notes
To the votes that never mind

Country's man and woman strong
Right or wrong prepared to serve
Told to go and save the cause
Not the laws that they deserve

Flung into the grinding maw
What they saw no words describe
Still, Valhalla's maids rejoice
At the choice blood they imbibe

Shocked and hurt and staring blank
Missing ankles, wrists, and knees
Howling moans from Cruelty's whelp
Help him! Help her! Help me! Please!

Reeling, falling souls set free
What they see no song can sing
Reaping not what they have sown
Giving only everything

Stinging Furies! Noisome hags!
Penance gags the prideful throat
Tried to dam the River Styx
Wound up fixing Charon's boat

Patient Death in silence waits
Near the gates of Fear and Dread
Judging not; forgiving none
Merely one who greets the dead

Having watched the short parade
Summer's shade to winter's frost
Comes now time to pack and close
Tasks for those who count the cost

Adding up the fearful sum
Heavy numbers weighted down
No reprieve; no second chance
No romance; just war's grim clown

Fading glory; fleeting fame
Once the game of battle ends
Left to shattered lives of care
Lovers, parents, wives, and friends

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright © 2004