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To Make a Desert

February 2007, no. 288

To Make a Desert

February 2007, no. 288

‘They make a desert and call it peace.’
Calgacus, on the Romans, AD 83

How will they remember us, the dead?
As a cause – a just cause – or simply an end?

And when we, like traces of shooting
stars, have visited our stripes upon the world

and in our turn are gone, how will we
be remembered by those who follow, those who

will have overcome us? The victors
who write also read the history of their

conquests. Will they read this: that we who
began with the word liberty in our mouths

ended with blood on our hands? That we
who surrendered freedom for security

lost both? That we fell into line with
history, and like others before turned brutal

with wealth and power and self-interest?
There are those alive now who will die of us,

each cancelling out a sacrifice
by one who fought to save us from empires.

Who will save us from ourselves?

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