By Michael R. Burch
MILESTONES TOWARD OBLIVION “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” —Ronald Reagan A milestone here leans heavily against a gaunt, golemic tree. These words are chiseled thereupon: "One mile and then Oblivion." Swift larks that once swooped down to feed on groping slugs, such insects breed within their radiant flesh and bones ... they did not heed the milestones. Another marker lies ahead, the only tombstone to the dead whose eyeless sockets read thereon: "Alas, behold Oblivion." Once here the sun shone fierce and fair; now night eternal shrouds the air while winter, never-ending, moans and drifts among the milestones. This road is neither long nor wide ... men gleam in death on either side. Not long ago, they pondered on milestones toward Oblivion. LAY DOWN YOUR ARMS Lay down your arms; come, sleep in the sand. The battle is over and night is at hand. Our voyage has ended; there's nowhere to go ... the earth is a cinder still faintly aglow. Lay down your pamphlets; let's bicker no more. Instead, let us sleep here on this ravaged shore. The sea is still boiling; the air is wan, thin ... Lay down your pamphlets; now no one will “win.” Lay down your hymnals; abandon all song. If God was to save us, He waited too long. A new world emerges, but this world is through . . . so lay down your hymnals, or write something new.
Michael R. Burch’s poems have been published by hundreds of literary journals, taught in high schools and colleges, translated into fourteen languages, incorporated into three plays and two operas, and set to music by seventeen composers.
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