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When Men Talk of War

by Lorna Bracewell

I've heard them linger over the statistics,
savoring the way a body count
can roll off the tongue
Men sip war like fine wine,
commenting on the vintage,
"Napoleonic, right? Mmmm.
1805, was it? What a splendid year,"
as if shells burst with Champagne corks

I've heard their voices breaking on the names:
Agincourt, Alexander, Antony
(and those are just the A's)
Bonaparte, Charlemagne,
(They're flushed by now)
Marathon, Salamis
(Had they but been born Greek)

I've seen their eyes wide and wet
with Homer's vision,
weeping like Adromache,
for Troy
for Hector
washing the murder off their heroes