People may not be able to say they weren’t warned weeks in advance about Russia’s intent to invade Ukraine, but that does not lessen the shock of seeing it actually take place on this 24th day of February 2022. We are not yet a quarter of the way through the 21st century and already, despite our celebrated technological wizardry, it is competing with the 20th for vicious warmongering. Just as the current year is giving 2020 and 2021 a run for their COVID-infected money.
When I wrote the poem below in 2006, I thought it unlikely the world would see again, or at least within the next few decades, the kind of atrocities which prompted the composition of “Angel of War.” It was posted on my AuthorsDen profile before being published first in The Bridge of Silver Wings and later in The River of Winged Dreams. I’m sharing that post here with original responses that followed because the comments represent the voices of many poets who shared their observations on why war is one of humanity’s most violently futile manifestations of insanity.
Angel of War
This jig death dances
around your tongue, scorns and rapes
Earth as it pleases.
Why do we shout the names of gods but worship you?
Before the first stone
crushed the first skull, fear had claimed
the first victory.
Does the potential for peace make the reality of hate sweeter?
Before the first spear,
arrow, or cannon––humans
abandoned their souls.
The phrase “nihilistic techno-bitch”––means what, exactly, to you?
Wings of centuries
flutter chaos through children’s
bones, dreams, screams, and blood.
Do invitations to slaughter beauty ever make you cry?
Feathers of bullets,
feathers of daggers, missiles,
heroes, and coffins.
If missiles are faux dildos, what are babies splattered by bombs?
A halo of ice
drips the chilling truth––of this
horror mankind does.
In which countries should patriotism renounce itself first?
Were you a poet,
how easily nations would
still your howling scythe.
If with all your power you kissed the angel of love, what then might happen?
Gobbler of prophets
and history’s excrement,
must you never rest?
Poets Reflect & Respond
NOTE: Some profile links may have changed since first post on AuthorsDen.
Reviewed by Dale Clark
Powerful and an excellent message!
Poets must express themselves against
injustice and war!
Reviewed by Debashish Haar
This is a powerful work Aberjhani. Some brilliant images and a fitting cause.
Reviewed by Kimmy Van Kooten
The questions here SHOULD be asked and everyone EXPECTED to answer...
Do invitations to slaughter beauty ever make you cry? This particular one brought a sad memory back. . .1996, on the road to Split, Yugoslavia
A small village ruined in bullets, holes in 12th century paintings on the walls of worship, and I'm not talking canvas, they were painted directly on the stone...beauty had a hole in it!
I couldn't let the artists' purpose go to waste, so, I spent days and film on every creation marred, brought them all home and re-created the masterpieces back to their original form...
Can we Adobe out the effects of war? No...but I can know in my heart, I tried!
The "Angel of War" truly is a start!
Love and Peace~
Reviewed by Georg Mateos
As long as two men roams the earth...conflict should be expected.
As for "...nihilistic techno-bitch..." it means to me that all machines are demonstrating to be a she, with a grievous PMS tantrums and to paraphrase "the Governor" the Revenge of the Machines is upon us.
The angels of war always be there....waiting for you to disagree.
Reviewed by Zaomi Samada
Who truly plays by the rules in war? And what man can claim to be a genuine pacifist but he who turns the other cheek when struck or he who would not defend his own family while they are being raped and murdered? Sometimes nations are defending themselves against annihilation.
War is hell and sometimes hell is unavoidable. Nevertheless, you paint War's face with the hand of a master. As former military and with the heart of a poet, you know both sides, I suspect. As we learn from Sun Tzu, true warriors do not rush to battle. They would prefer an alternative method to settle differences. ~~Ummm, Ms. Adams
Comments continue below video on Russian invasion of Ukraine
Reviewed by Tarek Hassan
powerful, pertinent and very moving in these sad days of aggressive and blatant killing of civilans and children.
Reviewed by Paul Williams
A very powerful and exceptional juxtaposed exploration on the absurdity of our hunger for conflict. Pray we starve.
Reviewed by Cynth'ya Reed
Great depiction of a "Cain vs. Abel" world.
blessin's, (very strong word images, as is your strongsuit)
Reviewed by Kate Burnside
One has only to look within the human heart to know of the duality of which it is capable - the extremes of beauty and perversion. We seem unable to find within ourselves the ability to strive for heaven without first courting hell - and yet, the human soul ultimately seems designed to yearn for rest. We create the need we are of ourselves unable to satisfy. Your write is so elliptical and prism-like that, like the sun, I find myself unable to "look" directly at it and can only seek to feel around it with peripheral vision.
The Angel of War is couched within the innocent veil of human flesh, I have no doubt, and our bloodied and our muddied feet march steadily onwards in serried ranks beneath our tattered robes of white. "Were you a poet, how easily nations would still your howling scythe"... might be said to be true of "nations", but the heart of the poet cannot but represent the love/hate duality common to all mankind, calling for peace and war with characteristic forked tongue of honest appraisal. There seems no way out of this slowly descending elliptical circle dance. Words and graphic awesome. Questions and observations rapier-like. Imagery out of this world. Another Big A poetic coup. LOL Kate xx
Reviewed by jude forese
a powerful testament to the futile travails of war ... your unique arrangement of questions are rich with answers ... seems war cannot rest until mankind has the will to evolve beyond it ... in a perverted sort of way, maybe that's its purpose?
Reviewed by Ronald Hull
You pictured her perfectly, in all her contradictions. When does defending oneself become vicious revenge? When does killing the best become genocide. War is hell and should be banned.
Reviewed by Huda Orfali
Horrifying truth in those lines
perfectly penned to show the horrors
thanks for sharing
love and peace
Reviewed by Mr. Ed
Before the first spear,
arrow, or cannon––humans
abandoned their souls.
I am sadly starting to believe this more and more. We humans just can't seem to evolve beyond our hatred, bigotry, and violence. And now I wonder, if it was all part of our inherent makeup, or if we've really mucked everything up so badly there is no longer any hope for us.
Reviewed by Chrissy McVay
Reviewed by Susan Sonnen
WOW!!! I've been reading peace/anti-war poetry today...this poem by far makes it's point loudest and clearest!! (I'm thinking that I used some poor grammar there...) What a fantastic write!
For more reflections and responses please check out: Voices of Poets on War and Peace
Contemporary award-winning American author of classically-styled works in history, poetry, creative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and journalism.