The Good Soldier

           Homage to Jaroslav Hasek, 1883 - 1923

Come back Soldier Schwejk
with your fumbling incompetence
before the officer
who gives orders like a metronome.
Come with your fool’s wisdom

and the smile that bounces
back to your face
each time you see the portrait
of the emperor
with his snowy moustache. Show us

how a weapon falls apart
in your hands
and how to soften the creases
in a uniform. Let us see you

stumbling as you march
with brandy in the flask
to which you pledge allegiance,
and befriending the prisoners
in your care. We’ll drink

to the flag
until we’re as limp as it is
and fold ourselves away
for a night of peaceful dreams.

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