Why Did This War Not End All Wars

By Ian Galey

O Life, it came and went and was,
Autumn followed summer as it always does.
Some powers rose and others fell
And all that seemed not well was well.
For no one thought what was not well
Would ever be a swift bombshell.
So thought I during the clear, clear chime
Of church bells till I served my time.

But after the war, the faces I saw
Were not of friends or faces of awe
Who hoped and prayed and stayed at home,
But faces of brothers and faces of bone
The ones who fought and took a stand,
Shredded to pieces in No Man’s Land.

What, I pray you, what was the purpose of this?
To show the world we could live in the piss?
While some of us managed to survive,
We broke the psyche of man
Staring in the eyes of the dead, alive.
What God would leave the one to see
Colossal death and then live free?
It is a travesty.
If war is war and it must be
Let all lie dead: life is not free.
A world within a world of war
Is not a world worth living for.

So what is life, what is this life?
What shall we do with all this strife?
Who answers for the silent dead?
The ones that ail that are not fed?
Life! Why must thou be so cruel
To force us through this rotting drool?
What meaning, what force, what ounce of will
Shall let our cups with water fill?
If none are saved when war is done,
Then who shall save us from the sun?
The sun that looks by day upon
This living, lifeless life: a con!
What shall we do what shall we say?
This world holds nothing but decay.
Then stamp it out and let it die!
There is no meaning in the sky.
Ships can’t sail and birds can’t fly.
Let us take the eye for eye.
Yet . . .
Where is the joy, the once we had?
Was life really all that bad
Before the pride, the hell, the pain?
Was there nothing but naught to gain?

Dispense with the pleasantries of the past.
We live in the here and the now.
Those memories from long ago become more ancient
With each falling tear, those wild incestuous falling tears
That multiply the more they come.
Alas the joy that now is past: perhaps we lost the fine-tuned art
Of self-devotion and self-promotion.
The self for now might do us good.
Those inner workings shall produce
Some rest, some solitary solitude.
My hands I trust: they brought me through
The war and the sludge and the wire.
Perhaps I can make my way alone.
Come, let us make our ways alone.
The endless turning of the earth, the ever-occurring rounding sun
Will not remember me or you or us.
And if God can’t remember us either, then let us remember ourselves.
The world, we cannot change it, let us change ourselves.
The earth, we cannot rule it, let us rule ourselves.
I live because I choose.
And life means because I will it.
And significance in life exists because I live it.
I am my own god, and upon the utterance of my name all of man shall tremble not.
For a god is deaf. The noise and peals of the outerness mean nothing at all.
The law of my life is within my hands, the agents of my soul.

Do I have a soul? Surely I do.
The lifeforce of life ever exists.
But do I exist beyond this body of flesh and bones? Surely I do.
But whence shall I depart when this body turns to earth?
To the earth; it must be there, I know it is. Surely I do.
But will they mourn? Surely they will.
I did, for my lost brothers.
But why would they mourn? Why did I mourn?
It was a travesty.
Yes, it was. Surely it was.
There were none to help it, none to stop it, none to abort it.
But here am I, to condemn it.
If God will not condemn it, I will.
If the apathetic God elects to do nothing,
If he chooses to hide his face (hide it in shame I might add),
Then I will choose to show my face, and to abhor the massacres,
To despise the slaughter of fathers of fathers of fathers.
If men cannot end war, who can?
Surely God cannot.
Upon this anthem, I will build my church.
The sound of which shall ring with the cry of the dead,
And I, upon the pedestal, shall cry with the dead:
Why O God?
Where are you?
Why do you do nothing?
And silence will answer me.
And he who hears a word beyond silence, him too shall I condemn.
None have the ground to stand against me, for I have built my house on solid ground,
And he who is not where my house is, he falters and he falls amidst the shifting sands.

But how do you know?
What?
And silence answered me:
(And the first words I did not understand, but the second were clear as the sun.)
I am right here.
I have already done everything, do not fear.

Furtive now I gave a backward glance;
It could not be, there wasn’t any chance.
I know my standard because I made it so.
None of this nor none of that can show
This God of gods can surely never know
This stark and bleeding world that cannot grow.
I broke the silence and gave a raucous shout:
My standard is the norm of all mankind;
Get from me God you are not on my side.
The sons of men unite to thwart your plan,
Then silence answered: take thou heart, I am the son of man.
And in that moment, there in shining light,
Silence walked and gave itself without a fight.

I know so little but I now know more
Of the treasures of my life before.
Joy cannot be joy until we understand
The mighty works of our Creator’s hand.
Thus my anthem I proclaim to you
The Son of Man is making all things new.

Spring 2019 Issue