Feigning a Fine Fettle

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Unquenched

Sargent,_John_Singer_(RA)_-_Gassed_-_Google_Art_Project

Gassed – John Singer Sargent, 1919

The men huddled without hope in their trench,

A jagged gouge exposed in the earth, ripped

Open like a wound. Their thirst went unquenched

No matter how much water they sipped.

 

A jagged gouge exposed in the earth, ripped

Like the tattered flags flapping in the wind.

No matter how much water they sipped,

The fire inside burned for everything to end.


Like the tattered flags flapping in the wind,

The bright colors faded, the world turned inverse.

The fire inside burned for everything to end,

As it had for their brothers dead atop the traverse.

 

The bright colors faded, the world turned inverse

For untold time. Artillery, gas, and bullets consumed,

As it had for their brothers dead atop the traverse,

Life. In plumes of crimson they were exhumed.

 

For untold time, artillery, gas, and bullets consumed

Soldiers, picked clean their bones, ravenously stole

Life. In plumes of crimson they were exhumed,

Granted freedom by the pound of flesh, the toll.

 

Soldiers picked clean their bones, ravenously stole

Their letters home, their pocket watches, their bayonets,

Granted freedom by the pound of flesh, the toll

Men will gladly pay their country to settle debts.

 

Their letters home, their pocket watches, their bayonets –

Like shameful trophies, they rest and collect dust.

Men will gladly pay their country to settle debts

They couldn’t afford, debts accrued through their lust.

 

Like shameful trophies, they rest and collect dust;

The passion they once represented is silent.

They cannot afford debts accrued through their lust

For retribution. They still await judgment.

 

The passion they once represented is silent.

Open like a wound, their thirst went unquenched

For retribution. They still await judgment,

The men huddled without hope in their trench.

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