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Not For Them

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Not For Them

A poem about World War 1.
(ich totete is German for I killed)
(J’ai tue is French for I killed)
(Yellow mist refers to Mustad Gas)

Not for them
this poem of life
for the pen is full of blood.
Writing the names of yesterday
on lichen memorials 
washed by the tears
Of these forgotten years.

Not for them 
a sunny day
only shadows from the cross.
Hiding their faces from tomorrow.
Stored in this warehouse of silence,
kept secret by churches reverence.

Not for them
 to burn this candle of innocence
their light was sold for war.
To search out death in no man’s land
for machine gun and snipers hand.

Not for them
the words of love or the gift of flowers
for only poets can pick their dreams.
No nightingales and moonlit nights 
or gentle caress upon the shore.
For death is but a moment,
Inspiration dies,
with the pain in soldiers eyes.

Not for them
to sleep in peace
or to wake to mothers bread.
Only memories of a yellow mist,
for the banshees long to be kissed.

Not for them
 to lie to God
to say we did not kill.
For in death they can all say
Ich tötete, J'ai tué, I killed.
We who came from Eden,
are now comrades in heaven.

Not for them
to know the future
for we see only the graves.
Let this be our peace,
less we forget the meaning of war.
And pray historians will never write again, 
with a pen full of blood, this poem,
Not for them.

Copyright © steven cooke

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