In a second-hand bookstore in Tucson
I discovered two books that survived
sixty years since first
they were printed and bound
during war. Raiders’ Dawn and Ha! Ha!
Among the Trumpets stood together on the shelf
like friends seeking comfort
growing old. Alun Lewis wrote about
soldiers’ frozen sightless eyes, and from a steamy climate
he described his thoughts that sail back
like swans to the English winter. He was the sentry
who knew I have begun to die,
the soldier after Dunkirk reflecting on
What statesmen’s speeches try to simplify;
and the poet who related
And though Death taps down every street
Familiar as the postman on his beat,
in rhyme that brings war closer
than any televised report. The stillness
of the page contains more horror
than the prime time interviews in which
alleged experts compete
with arguments more loaded than the guns
one side aims toward the other.
They cannot match
The moon has placed white pennies on my eyes
with their calculating explanations.
Sweat never runs on their brows.
Lewis knew them before their time as loud celebrities
Exhorting us to slaughter, even as he noticed
black-headed kittiwakes and oyster-catchers
Fishing the silver, in the aftermath
of yet another battle. In poetry the detail