The Dead I Have Known

Dark Poetry

They say there are ghosts in this old
battlefield, and if I listen long
enough I can hear the sound of gunshot
and a monsoon of life spilled out all
at once.


But I haven't seen you, shades of yesterday.
I've stood in the trenches you dug
and I've crossed the rocky creek that
connects quiet with quiet but the platinum
chimes below sound nothing like
your prayers and screams.


Still, you are infused in the air,
implanted in summer's golden aura:
captive souls in leaves and moss.


Some trees remember your mission,
and you may have glimpsed the white
fever on the water on a day like today:
noonday battle raging softly on blue--
explosions in step with the wind.


Harder than a star, softer than pity,
death is what our lives amount to.


Years race by so slowly; time stands
still, and then it is gone. But
you knew that, spirits. It was
springtime when you passed through.


Do you see the battles we fight today?
some with causes, some without, some
inventing causes.


Today few die in one furious gulp,
but rather piece by crumbling piece
in the arena of desire.


If the dead walk here, it is only
to wonder.


Tell them, enlightened, heaven-soaked
trees falling to the ground to make
room for more battles and ambition,
how blessed they are to sleep.


by Patricia Joan Jones

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