Cenotaph Reflections

There is much to admire of these constructions,
How lifelike the statues of the dead are,
The grace of columns and the stone’s color,
How the shade highlights those mourning,
And the bright blooms of flowers in wreaths.

Here there is a longitudinal order falling
Over the names of the deceased and the generals,
Harmony in the dates and the heights,
The chaos and the carnage have gone away,
Laid to rest by a politically careful architect.

All around me, I see a desperate alchemy,
Born of good intentions, but giving birth
To a lust for future wars and rumors of war,
Here the dead have been transformed,
Their suffering turned into a thing of beauty.

We have taken their loss for a conflict
We agreed now had no great cause or effect,
Their youthful deaths were tragic enough
But we could not let them lie in mass graves
Without letting them give us some work of art.

Yet what do we get out of such salvaging?
We give them an apotheosis, but learn
Nothing from the lessons their bones can give,
Beauty born of bloodshed keeps the wheel
Of slaughter turning over the nation’s youth.

We should build nothing beautiful to honor
Those who died, either in defense or offense,
The columns should be broken in half,
The statues must be amputated and the heads
Placed at the feet of any nearby future soldiers.

Ben Nardolilli is a twenty-five-year-old writer currently living in Arlington, Virginia. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, One Ghana One Voice, Caper Literary Journal, Quail Bell Magazineelimae, Super Arrow, Grey Sparrow Journal, A Hudson View, The ToucanContemporary American Voices, Eudaimonia Poetry Review, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, Gloom Cupboard, and Beltway Poetry Quarterly. In addition he maintains a blog at htt://mirrorsponge.blogspot.com and is looking to publish his first novel.

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