POETRY: Bruce McRae – How The War Began

How The War Began

Somebody said something to somebody else,
the gist of which is lost to the fogs of time.
Newspapers were filled with bathing beauties.
Strangers grinned. They gushed over the weather.
In a dark room someone else, someone important, drew a line.
He claimed it was a map, but a map sketched on wrapping paper,
the sort one tears to shreds on special occasions.
The wind was blowing west to east and back again.
Angels were reportedly sighted, and their flying machines.
They’d finally invented a gun that shoots only diamonds.
Children were dragged out of their homes and beds
and taught how to laugh and breathe underwater.
That’s when the bigwigs declared they needed more ice.
More gold. More elbowroom. More blondes, the bombshell kind;
women with large breasts, who didn’t ask too many questions.
We hate that, they said, lighting their foot-long cigars.
We don’t like questions, and we don’t like answers either.
Authorities got the OK to build more walls and tear down houses.
If papers weren’t being shuffled they were being signed.
People drained their swimming pools and burnt their money.
The family pets were given degrees in law and finance.
The enemy, chosen for their swarthy complexions,
were aiding us in the manufacturing and distribution of weapons.
Giants were said to have been stomping across the land;
huge three-headed brutes bent solely on our destruction.
A woman on the television smiled a heavenly smile, then lied.
Experts put their faith in the study of disillusionment.
A kind of lassitude set in, akin to half-baked existential dread.
You couldn’t go six feet without tripping over a headstone.


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