In this house lay five girls dead of fright
From ceaseless shelling by our guns.
“It`s progress,” said our leader, “it`s all right.
It does not matter as we`ve won.”

Only villagers lost their lives, civilians
Who do not count on battlefields;
Part solely of the tragic millions
Whose destined fate war sealed.

Five bodies carried out and buried
Without a headstone, just a mound;
Tomorrow`s fighting`s got us worried,
More dead to cover yet more ground.

Acceptable casualties of the war?
They had a right to Life and Love –
Destroyed by military law –
We were commanded from above.

Or so we say. “Think of the trenches yet
Of Flanders fields, of Pascendaele,
Our country`s triumph first, do not forget.
Think of the dead – the way to fail!”

The living`s our concern we`re told by our
Commanders. Hard luck on people
Caught between the hell of arms and firepower:
Victims we`ve no time to weep for.

Above their graves the sky is scarred by smoke trails.
Still scream the shells, the bullets whizz
Over the pulped earth and ghost-like trees wail
Into the wind their obsequies.

“Fight the good fight; God`s on our side,” we`re told.
Did He decree the bayonet charge
That ravaged flesh and left it cold?
Did He destruction so enlarge

That nations could not wait to try it out
And send young men to fight each other
Hoping they would never have a doubt
That beneath the skin they`re really brothers?

They were our sisters too, the ones we buried
Victims of aggression,
Dead comrades from the battle carried –
Acceptable; but murder`s not our mission

© A.B. Finlay Ph.D