Atlantis

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Princesses love to believe there
are white towers somewhere, to
cradle the wanderers glued
to divides between countries
lost in combat.

But that is good salt: the stuff
the rich eat to feed their
consciences in times of peril,
how they turn their backs against
the Maginot Line and forget.

Battle is where one thing is
Everything: The chocolate fills
the hole in your stomach; the
dead man's jacket is now yours;
the single step you take and then
boom, you are your friend's new chore,
skin and bones everywhere. This
is how man is knit, your friend
will think as he scoops the
catalog of your parts and
your blood out from trenches in
the dirt.

Because Battle is a place
where death becomes a museum
on the ground, your name not your
own but "that poor dog who died
trying": and so your body,
splattered on the trees and rocks,
is not the scene of a crime
but a heroic pursuit,
the measure of lethal
errors for months afterward.

So the princesses look away,
shoving salt into their mouths
like the soldiers push salt into
water, diluting the blood
pooling in their gashes before
their own bodies kill them.

Battle is ugly.
Battle is pyrography;
A complicated and senseless
algebra. Battle is dreams
for sale: soldiers' minds full with
thoughts of places where nothing
happens, another day they can
call tomorrow, another year
they can tack to their age.

Battle is not Atlantis;
it is an animal.
Rauschenberg tells us to look
at it: to stop feeding our
egos with good work, to bask in
our own destruction. Yet we
continue to invest in our
own ignorance, while agents of
battle utter, low,  "I hate time,
I love time", as they trudge, and
trudge, breathing the dust of road-
-side sand and fortune cookies
because luck has never tasted
so full.

They do not yet know what it's
like to explode, and for this
these marchers are grateful.

In the meantime Princesses
will sweep the salt left behind
off their counters, believing
in the gorgeous stories of
armed men and ordinary
heroes while they build the
Maginot and wait and eat
salt and push doors against children
who run from the fire and eat
and dream of worlds where battle
is heroic and not sense-
-less in its violence.

But the marchers continue to
march onward, forever, looking
for some destroyed religion
in the pearling blood and wet
sand.