Thunder From The Crossroads

During the battle of Gettysburg
at the railroad cut
Rufus Dawes and the Sixth Wisconsin
stopped at the lip
and called down
for the Confederates to surrender
instead of firing
at these grey ducks
caught in an earthen barrel.

I said this because
I wanted you to know
that men are capable of such
clear thinking and restraint
during the maelstrom of battle
and we should set our expectations higher
for human behavior.

I believe you think
modern man incapable
of such courage through inaction
especially with studies
that count the educated
as moving farthest from the bible.

But I think it is peer pressure—
not religion—that motivates
people to Keep up with the Jones
especially in matters of power—
its acquisition and application
contrary to the ideal
of equal treatment under the law.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Documentary

Last night I watched
a documentary
on Gettysburg
and I was surprised
how they dumbed it down
and left out large portions
of the battlefield conflict
to focus on individuals’
experiences.

Although these accounts
were interesting
and brought a human element
to the history,
no viewer could understand
the information
and misinformation
commanders made
their decisions by
or the battle as a whole.

Then I thought
maybe that was the point.
There is no understanding war
only the monotony
that precedes the maelstrom
and the constant heave
of the knife’s edge
that separates
courage from terror.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Trying To Explain

I’ll try anything once.
Well. I use to.
Age diminished
my adventurous spirit.
As in, I do not like
things that cause trouble.
Especially if trouble feels
like a kick in the shins.

Even if you double dare me
I will not stop in Indiana—
only pass through
on my way to somewhere else
never leaving the highway,
always waiting until Ohio
or the return to Chicago
to fuel the car.

Remaining warm is important.
As the fires of passion burned out,
so did the internal furnace.
Or, maybe, it was my ability
to ignore the cold
that subsided.

I feel fear more easily, now.
It is not that I have less courage.
It is that I have less ignorance.
I have seen too many cattle bones
from a highway stretched
over a drought dry grassland.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney