The Dead Do Not Forget


D-day a dud
but another armistice is signed
allowing us to go back
to waiting wives
to being civil
buying babies birthday gifts
building egos.

Picnickers pick poppies
in former minefields
squeeze songs
from concertina wire.

Bread is baked again
and broken
in those infamous brick ovens
swept clean of human bone
and bridges are erected
over rivers burnt black
by napalm.

The pardoned are permitted
to walk the parted red sea
of blood past the darker parts
of ourselves to peaceful
olive groves where we clasp
the hands of former enemies
extended now in friendship.

But the dead do not forget.
They turn over in their mounds
like moles digging tunnels
to the underworld.
They demand an eye and a tooth
fixed on a bayonet
as they advance into our dreams.

Like flower children
we stuff fireweed into their
rifle barrels, pull their tense
fingers off the triggers
about to blast holes
in our hearts and heads.

Yet some of our sons will soon
be gearing up to engage
new bones risen from the trenches
of old graves.

Arthur Gottlieb