The dawn of flight to the Princess’ last night
And two World Wars in between
I closed the book, wore a forlorn look
Amazed at what I’d seen
From Malcolm X and JFK
To Czars and walls of falling
It pays that if the world’s a stage
The curtains may be drawing
The lesser fiends, like Mussolini,
Tricky Dick and O.J.
Would breeze through any rivalry
With the greats of other days
And Lindbergh, Ruth, and Reagan fly
With the Fab Four and the King
To reach the heights of “the good guys”
But the camera gave them wings
Ironic how the clearest speech
Laconic as bullets are
Could sound from death camp, trench, and beach
The Right and Wrong of war.
Does in that lie the answer
Why combat seems so real
While lover, poet, dancer
Have such a shallow feel?
For death the breath can capture
And wrest a moment’s pause
We reflect the effect is after
When pressed to find the Cause.
(I wrote this poem after looking through a book about the 20th Century, published in 2000)