Ride to the Border

Hi! It is, as you may have already deduced, me again (Mike Berry, if you haven’t).

Last time, I threatened to post some of my poetry here, and I’ve returned today to make good on this threat. As I haven’t had much time of late to progress with my main work in progress, Corp Wars, I’ve taken to writing poetry to keep my hand in.

Not only is this activity good as a means to scratch that creative itch when I don’t have a lot of time to work on my novel, but it also serves as a good writing exercise. Poetry forces me to be concise, and as a serial rambler, that’s a valid goal. It reminds me about the power of those few small words. It’s easy, when trying to make a reader understand a point, to pile on adjectives and metaphors until the sheer number of words saturate the actual point. And it’s equally easy to go the other way, not to say enough, to fail to make the point at all. Poetry is a good way of getting as much as possible out of a limited number of words. I hope I’ve managed to do that with the following piece:

RIDE TO THE BORDER

Do you feel the heat through the soles of your shoes,
Baking out of the deck?
Beneath layers of rolled steel, it rages, hungers.
It comes for you, actively seeks you out.
Rivets, welded seams, or flesh . . .
It cares not.
I care not.

Do you dream that the rattle of the belt
As it passes through the Vickers light machine gun
Is the sound of the dice that you rolled with your friends?
Or the clatter of your child’s little feet approaching?
It is not.
It is I.
And all
Will
Burn.

My name is torpedo, Stuka,
Bullpup, Remington,
Drone or mine or sword or bomb;
120mm armour-piercing round.
My name is that of your son,
Dispatched in valour,
Brought home in a box.

I have a slogan, as if I were an advert.
It is the same as the opening line of your anthem,
Or the name of your God, or your regiment’s Latin.
Cry it as you pull the steel pin out,
So all might know you do my work.

I insist that you sit with me, talk with me, walk with me,
As if we were old friends
Or favourite enemies.
I have little to say, a brute form of wisdom,
But still I demand that you hear.
Now hush yourself, and pray for nothing
But time.

I find you in the foxhole, the Jeep or the mess hall,
And penetrate you,
Not unlovingly.
Who will ever know your flesh
More thoroughly than I?
What lovers could ever meld so completely?
I make myself an intrinsic part.
My breath is an icy vapour
Which freezes on the windows of the soul:
A burning cold,
A creeping frost.

I am the archetype of input/output,
The machine that takes more than it makes;
The flywheel that never stills,
But spins forever, towards infinity,
Self-fulfilling, sowing seeds of revenge
That will feed those yet to come.
I perpetuate a perpetually motionless state.
I offer you nothing,
But a single
Definitive
Answer.

My name is torpedo, Stuka,
Bullpup, Remington,
Drone or mine or sword or bomb;
120mm armour-piercing round.
My name is that of your son,
Dispatched in valour,
Brought home in a box.

I have a badge, an icon, a history.
I am the watcher at the back of the theatre,
Whose cold and secret hand controls.
I am the bent bow, clanging bell; the siren over the city.
I call to the male of your species
In tones like breaking glass.

I have a flag, the same as yours.
Fly it as you ride to the border,
So all might know you do my work.

Peace. Mike.

http://www.xenoformat.com/

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