the coward

I do not write much war poetry.

But this poem came to me as I was thinking through the power of juxtaposition and irony. And in honor of those who have served and sacrificed for our freedom.

I love the result. The notion of what is a hero? What is a coward? How do we define bravery in the heat of battle or in the throes of “the end of all things?”

[ small nerdy nod also to Tolkien’s Frodo & Sam in LOTR ]

Found myself quite emotionally affected by this poem. I would love to hear how it impacted you, most of all.

Please feel free to leave your Comments below.

-PS Conway ☘ ☘ ☘

☘ ☘ ☘ ☘ ☘

the coward

at the end of all things, the night sky glowed

with fire and perdition, missiles whistled,

bullets strafed, gore rained through strangled starlight

while munitions pounded our position,

and oh the blood, the blood, the red blood flowed

from heads rent wide, bone stripped down to gristle,

and i, the coward, crawled into the night

low like a snake, abandoned my mission,

fled grave Gehenna, death left to the crows,

crept like a cowering cur up the hill to

the church, where a wee child wept outside

of iron cemetery gates, alone,

alone and in tears, alone, heaven knows

what had happened, oh sweet child, to find you

in terror, this coward clambered to her side,

took her in my arms, hid near a tombstone,

hushed her tears, held her tight, this heinous night

full of terror and fright, would not claim her life,

even when bullets burst forth from death’s valley

below, i turned my back to shelter the blow,

and oh the blood, the blood, the red blood flowed,

my arms opened wide to allow her to flee

arms like wings granting my soul to take flight,

soar up from the bloodshed, the cruel strife

outside those cemetery gates, as dawn

came soft and low, this doomed coward crawled ‘cross

unconsecrated ground into the arms of

a shallow hole, eyes closed to all the horror.

9 comments

  1. Wow. Releasing a young child from your arms as you die is a powerful image. Perhaps the coward achieved redemption by comforting this child in her hour of need. I’d like to think so.

  2. I feel such empathy for even this person who would be called a coward. Fear is a real emotion that we can not often control. We respond in our own way to it. Well written point of view. It seems like I have read this one before, though. Is that possible?

  3. Once again, Patrick, you capture the essence of an individual and still lay bare the truth about war. There is nothing glamourous or heroic about it except for that one life you might have saved regardless of your fears

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