Scattering Flowers

Poem By George Hitchcock

It is our best and prayerful judgment that they (air attacks) are a necessary part of the surest road to peace.
Lyndon B. Johnson

There is a dark tolling in the air,
an unbearable needle in the vein,
the horizon flaked with feathers of rust.
From the caves of drugged flowers
fireflies rise through the night:
they bear the sweet gospel of napalm.

Democracies of flame are declared
in the villages, the rice-fields
seethe with blistered reeds.
Children stand somnolent on their crutches.
Freedom, a dancing girl,
lifts her petticoats of gasoline,
and on the hot sands of the deserted beach
a wild horse struggles, choking
in the noose of diplomacy.

Now in the cane chairs the old men
who listen for the bitter wind
of bullets, spread on their thighs
maps, portfolios, legends of hair,
and photographs of dark Asian youths
who are already dissolving into broken water.

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I apostrophize

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The river sings in its alcoves of stone.
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