I’ve always wanted to be in a war

I’ve always wanted to be in a war—
Is that the wrong thing to say?
I’ve always wanted to be in a war
At least one like I would play.

I’d be covered in glory,
Glamorous and gory,
Full of wonderful stories,
Beloved and entitled to V.A.

When Uncle Sam came calling
I’d put my ball in
And off to boot camp I’d sashay!
(And that’s okay now, I’d be quick to say).

Camaraderie! Brotherhood!
Oh, what a dream!
Three meals a day! Three types of cream!
One for my face and one for the pot
And then it’s me and the cream of the crop.
One by one, my fellow soldiers would drop
From exhaustion or drunkenness or too much fear
And me standing alone and the general near.

“Sir!” I reply, and smart as a whip,
With a salute, and a smile, and a manner that’s slick.
“Earnest!” he cries and he pumps my hand,
“I’ve been looking for you! We need such a man!”

He gives me my orders and off I dash
With two pistols, a rifle, and a knife safely stashed.
Somehow I end up behind enemy lines,
With a knife at my throat and my fingers entwined
With a beautiful spy, a double agent—both sides—
Who I’ve seduced and converted to mine.

She betrays me, it’s true.
“But I expected that of you! I had a plan along!”
With my battle cry said, and leaping from bed,
I shift the knife in a jiff. Then I hear the click
And the spitting pistol whiff
Of a gun going off at close range.

That’s how it always ends, again and again,
No matter what course I take.
I guess that’s the price that you pay for a war
When the war that you’re fighting is fake.

Leviathan Lullabies

Leviathan Lullabies

Sweet and soft and soothing sounds

sing silent in the deep

as Leviathan makes her lullabies

and tells her children sleep.

Sleep, sleep, angels of the deep;

let nothing break your reverie.

For longer lives will keep

In blissful cold harmony

Than far up, above and over

the abyssal plain of home,

where simple, sinful soldiers sever

fin from fat and soul from bone.

Think not with spirits pure

of straying from your bed,

For mother’s wrath is hard to bear,

even worse if you are dead.

I wrote this poem in English 160, Robert Maniquis’s class on the early Romantics, while we were learning about Blake. Hence the Blakesian tone and imagery.  The poem is original; the subject matter is simply my own conecption of what whales would sing to their children about, considering that the majority of human fairy tales and nursery rhymes are somewhat dark (as are, it seems to me, many lullabies). It is not intended as a commentary on whaling.