We bring the day’s dead children home at night,
stealthily carried in their flag-draped coffins,
carefully hidden from the public’s eyes.
It seems that those who sent them out to fight
are ashamed of them for having died in war.

But we have all been shamed.  The zealots who
sent other people’s children out to war,
but dared not go themselves when it was time,
have carefully destroyed our consciousness.
Our nation’s heart is full of open sores.

And for the truly wounded who return,
no more visible than the coffined dead,
no hospital or medicine can cure
their broken souls, or mend the shattered hopes
they carried when we sent them off to fight.

The shame should not be theirs, but on us all.
Shame that we let ourselves be falsely led,
shame that we did not even think to think,
shame that we listened to the empty cries
of those false prophets, liars, hypocrites.

The people swallowed their fantasies whole.
Now our children, our beloved sons and daughters,
our parents, brothers, sisters, and our friends,
doing their best to live another day,
cry out for mercy, and we do not hear.

© 2007 Dorothy Miller Gutenkauf