The Statement and The Stand
The writer voiced his opinions, right and left and loud,
to an eager group of minions, a young, impressionable crowd.
Back and a little to the side sat a solitary man,
listening wearily as he eyed the glass of whiskey in his hand.
The writer went on and they all heard about his blogs and posts and tweets,
his audience hungry for every word like children are for sweets.
Finally taking a satisfied pause he looked over past the rest,
basking in their near applause he took issue with this guest.
“Something’s on your mind, I see,” as the soldier looked away;
“Is it that you don’t agree with me and all I’ve had to say?”
“Oh, I’ve heard much of what you’ve said and your words certainly sound fine;
they’ve originated in a quite educated, cultivated, and sophisticated mind.”
“But what?” countered the writer, who sensed that there was more,
and so assessed this former fighter and offered the man the floor.
“I don’t have a way with words—like you—but I do have some thoughts to share:
but mine relate to the things I’ve done—and do—not to be unfair.”
A long-time fire inside him burned and now the soldier faced the writer’s clan:
The flames arose as he slowly turned, gripping the bar with a weathered hand.
“It seems, I know, not so long ago, I was young and sure like you;
I had so many worlds to conquer, so many things to do.
“But my country called, a call I heeded, so off I went to foreign lands,
to do my duty where I was needed, in desert storms and sands.
“We did it—we fought, we thought, the noble fight,
as I made a few and lost too many brave and fearless friends,
but now—I must admit it—I question if what we’re doing is right,
as we fight a war that never ends.
“Oh, I wish your words were weapons we could turn them upon our foes;
they could rain like hell from heaven with heavy and deadly blows.
“Generals could then retire and soldiers could come home,
if your talk could only return fire from enemies I’ve known.
“So please launch a billion breaths of bullets and of bombs
and cancel out a million deaths that break the hearts of moms.
“But syllables—they can’t and don’t and never have and won’t,
only bold and unbending deeds address this world’s inconvenient needs.
“So what happens when you finally arrive? Returned from war, cursed and blessed,
Oh so grateful to be alive and angry you didn’t die with all the rest.
“I still recall that morning I disregarded dangers, and did my honor-bound part:
I saved the lives of three perfect strangers, and was awarded a Purple Heart.
“It now sits in a corner, in a box, in a drawer with my underwear and sox—
I wish my demons were so neatly put away.
But thankfully they’re mostly static,
stowed away in my memory’s attic,
that I’ve promised to clean out some day.
“Don’t mind me, talk on!
“Decry our thirst for oil production as you drive your big sedans,
deny our addiction to consumption that sends patriots to foreign lands!
“Blind us with your eloquence, be brave with pen in hand!
Many a man can make a statement, Very few will take a stand.”
And as quietly as he’d started, he turned and slid into his chair;
the crowd stood stunned and soon departed, leaving a less certain man waiting there.
“I owe you an apology,” said the humbled writer, as he extended a trembling hand.
The soldier shook it politely, but holding tighter, the other whispered, “Now I understand.”
The writer’s eyes now glistened as a silence hung between them both,
and as the soldier listened, the writer made this oath:
“I’ll use my words as weapons, and send my pen marching through the mud
with inspiration from the heavens spilling ink instead of blood.
“I’ll use my words as weapons, and endeavor without pause,
and suffer no exceptions to my duty or my cause.
“I’ll use my words as weapons, and write as best I can,
but if verses fail in their protections, You’ll see this writer take a stand.”
So take this story as fair warning, if you would make the world less free:
lightning often strikes from quiet storming on foes of liberty.
Don’t be fooled by our often feeble build, or smiling, tender eyes.
A writer’s wit is sharp and skilled: we cut tyranny down to size.
Happy Memorial Day. And watch your back.
– Byron Tully, Paris, France 2017
copyright 2017 by Byron Tully
all rights reserved.