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Wednesday, November 01, 2006


A mordant Dantean reflection on news from the Middle East
by Tom Benediktsson

When we had overpassed the twisted wood,
the flaming field, the evil ditches, then
we came upon a plain of burning blood.

Gibbering through gouts of smoke, two old men
strove. Blinded, mad, deprived of speech, they
swung their gruesome clubs again and again,

their senile faces rapt with hate and joy.
I knew them, their famous names. In the red
glare of that godless place, late on that day,

I asked my guide how they still fought. He said,
“In life they warred with lies and bombs and stones;
now stones are dust, all bombs burst, lies all sped,

they wield, not broken knives or rusted guns,
but severed limbs of their daughters and sons.”

Tom Benediktsson teaches English and creative writing at Montclair State University in New Jersey. His poems have appeared in numerous little magazines and anthologies around the country, most recently in Paterson Literary Review, Journal of New Jersey Poets, and New Delta Review.