THE WHITMAN ISSUE

Miles David Moore

 

DEAD BOY IN THE ROAD AT FREDERICKSBURG
.......(Photographed by Mathew Brady, May 1863)

You're pictured blankly, in all-neutral tones.
Flung like a starfish on the trampled sod,
You lie still as Virginia takes your bones
And yields them up to Brady and to God.
At least your family was spared the horror
Brought to our time at six in living color,

But not the anguish of the empty chair
At supper, or the lash of each cross word,
Or half-dreamed listening to hear your bare
Feet on the stairs. A century has blurred
How you lost both the Christmases and quarrels
When those Yanks let you have it with both barrels.

It's old as Caesar. You were starry-eyed
Over a star-crossed flag of bonnie blue
Till that rough monster which no flag can hide
Rose on its haunches and devoured you.
God knows that every cause and every hurt
Are ashes in the equalizing dirt,

So that the men who died on Sparta's slopes
Were dung to fertilize the olive's fruit,
And now some living mother's brightest hopes
Lie dying on the tarmac in Beirut.
We turn on our TVs, and hear the cry
Of Belfast and Soweto as they die;

Through the millennia the murdered march
To someone else's tune and memory
And through some other guy's triumphal arch.
You and they are no one. You're history.
Repeating rifles always bear repeating.
The silent beast that ate you keeps on eating.

 

 

Miles David Moore is a Washington reporter for Crain Communications, Inc. He is founder and host of the Iota Poetry Reading Series in Arlington, VA, a member of the Board of Directors of The Word Works, Inc., and administrator of The Word Works Washington Prize. He is the author of three books of poetry: The Bears of Paris (The Word Works Capital Collection, 1995); Buddha Isn't Laughing (Argonne Hotel Press, 1999); and Rollercoaster (The Word Works Capital Collection, 2004). With Karren LaLonde Alenier and Hilary Tham, he co-edited Winners: A Retrospective of the Washington Prize, published in 1999 by The Word Works. Fatslug Unbound, a CD of Moore's poetry read by himself and 14 other poets, was realeased in 2000 by Minimus Productions. His review/essays on the poet John Haines have appeared in The Wilderness of Vision (Story Line Press, 1996) and A Gradual Twilight (CavanKerry Press, 2003).


To read more by this author:
Miles David Moore
Miles David Moore: DC Places Issue
Miles David Moore: Audio Issue