5.29.14 Maravot's Poetry for People continued


Poetry for People, Dragons
&
Other Unusual Creatures

by Mel West

 



The Prometheid
(1972)

Part VII

The War

Spiteful Timon wasn't the only one that day who wanted peace,
For many sought it but failed to increase
It at all during Eli's troubled time.
Eli's people were a very strange lot,
As they had strange ways of getting what they sought:
Seeking peace with swords and justice with crime!

Thus it was that Eli's freedom loving land sought war
To secure harmony forevermore.
It began, it seems, over the Lotus eating.
The dispute, subtle at first, came about
When three Lotus eating leaders were out
Searching for Lotus (which they called "Lotus Beating"). 

It is said that they got a big haul that day,
As each approached their smoky camp with a big bouquet.
They all sat down after their long greedy quest;
And, resting in a bed of dry leaves,
One of them snuffed a blossom and sneezed,
Causing blossoms to fly around that evil nest.

It was late in the evening and still quite still,
A full moon was over a ruminate hill,
And only a crackle from their campfire
Decried in the darkness that the Lotus-eaters were there.
Now, when one sneezed blossoms went everywhere,
But circled eventually to the flames, igniting the others' ire.

We may recall Lotus-eaters consume
Lotus as snuff (through the nose like perfume),
By smoking it wadded in brown paper wrappers,
Or eating it, which was preferred over all.
But in terms of this practice they had a protocol:
First eat, then smoke, then snuff and damp the wrapper in the trapper. 

"You idiot!" cried the angry two men,
"You've violated protocol again!"
The guilt laden one jumped up, saying, "But I like snuff!
I don't want to eat the junk anyway;
I'm sick of eating the blossoms all the live-long day.
Go on, take them, you can have the stuff!" 

He stormed and stomped throughout the night
In such a fit that the others' appetite
For the Lotus was quite ruined, alas,
And they all spent the eve in fuming rage,
Threatening their union; they would disengage,
Where each would lead his own Lotus eating class. 

So it came to pass, their world was parted,
And, for the sake of peace, war was started.
One Lotus-eater formed a snuffing camp,
Another of Smoke, and the last would eat
The tasty little petals in his six by six's seat;
And each, of course, had his people's ways to revamp.

At first the war was a cold play on words,
And the three odd camps added vinegar to the others' curds.
The eater faction feared the snuffer the most,
Whilst the snuffers and smokers feared the greed
Of the eaters, since they ate more than they should need.
Anyway, this is the charge I heard from each post.

Well, it was, I fear, a very true claim
That the Eaters were greedy! Put the snuffers to shame.
This was not unforeseen, since Lotus-eaters have unusual thirst
Above all other men; it is only natural
For them to thirst to the extreme, to have even the gall
To strive among themselves to be the worst.

To this day, over this nature, the Lotus-eaters reek
The greedy greed ingratiates them to such a peak
That everywhere darkness appeared, distrust ruled the gloom,
And their words grew hotter, as tempers flared,
Until, alas, one camp began running scared
And built itself a great weapon called "DOOM."

Kind readers, should I tell you now
Of the fear the new device was to endow?
There just was no greater horror
That swept over the world, from pole to pole;
The device was so terrible its toll
Was nothing less than suicidal war!

They ruined the rules of war; it was no longer a game
Of heroes and statesmen in search of fame;
It became a struggle where the stakes were so high,
That there would be total destruction everywhere,
Unless, of course, the Lotus-eater leader were to share
His secret of doom so mankind need not totally die. 

This was the thought in each camp anyway.
So everywhere spies sought to betray
One another for the secret and the gain.
Then there was success! Deceit had stolen the great "DOOM"
And planted it in a Snuffer's spies' room
Who carried it away to his desmesne. 

Oh, despair, the secret was out. A curse
Of DOOM was everywhere to coerce
Everyone now. And such fear then grew
That none of the war camps dared use the pernicious tool!
"But someone might But who? He'd only be a fool!"
Was their thinking. "What," they asked, "can we do?"

Since everyone could not release DOOM
The whole world became a terrified tomb,
And deceit began wisping through men's brains,
Until, at last, the Lotus-eaters chose
To war against DOOM! Why? Only heaven knows.
So new machines were built for the new campaigns.

Finally, this war of words and machines
Sapped the whole world of its glorious liens
On peaceful living and prosperity.
For it came to pass that warriors with weird stuff from their pit
Smote the spreaders of the snuffing habit,
So we are told by the Eater's somewhat biased history.

To be sure, the Snuffers had gained some ground
On the Eaters, who, in turn, would surround
The world with their Eating habits (knowing might makes right).
And it came to pass that the Eaters strengthened their camp
Of War throughout the world and sought to stamp
Out those who dared to even snuff Lotus with all their might.

Of course the Snuffers came to fear as much
The Smokers, whose towns had a dingy smut
From the grayish brown haze milking their air.
And the Smokers great population mass
Grew more a threat, exploding from their constant gas.
This, to the Snuffers, only increased the threat of warfare.

They, as well, set machines of war in gear
And to the battlefront began to steer.
Oh, horror! The battle was immanent;
Butchers lurked all over the land,
Waiting for the coming bloody command
And heroic call of their government.

The battle was launched. Glory, Peace,
Blood, Anguish, Rape, Famine, Money (they loved it; will it never cease?)
These things ripped apart the green countryside,
But the Lotus-eaters did not enter the fight! Why not?
Deceit! They tricked humans to fight for their lot
And made them commit the brutal homicide!

The humans cared not to smoke, snuff, or eat
The Lotus, so its beauty to entreat;
They were told a lie to fight a false cause!
(They would never destroy for the cause so stated)
And what's this? The Cause was never debated!
It was not declared by the human's laws!

Oh, grief, such despair! Will deceit never end?
It is a fact, The Lotus-eaters did send
The humans to death through words of deceit.
It is not worthy to humans, as written in their law, to fight
Until a act of law is debated and voted upon and passed right.
This unworthy battle was charged with Opinion and a bloody defeat.

Now Eli was an offspring of war,
Since it is said his generation was born to restore
The population of his slaughtered state,
To replace the dead of the last crusade
Against a mad lotus-eating renegade,
Who infected all humanity with the morbid desires of humans hate.

During this time Eli's people, still humanely good,
Had endeavored to war for brotherhood,
As their eyes were clear then and saw deceit
Easily when it meddled near their door:
As when the Lotus-eating renegade snuck up from Hell's lowest floor
And being seen through by the humans was forced to make his retreat.

In part this devil, being an early
Lotus-eater to invade humanity, was the key
To the vicious deceit which later came,
Since it is said the humans who put the devil down
Feared he would return again to claim the crown;
The humans were tricked, as the devil came by another name!

Yes, dear reader, it is true, Lucifer is sly!
He sent hellions masked, creeping through the rye,
While the watchmen of the humans were watching for the old fiend!
The hellions crawled past even our noble youth
Who labored in his field to sow Hope and Truth:
The Fruit of the pure Lotus which Prometheus had weaned.

As we saw earlier, Eli did see through those masks
When he peered into the Promethean fire and was given the task
To go forth to tell the humans what he saw: to show the truth to mankind.
But he failed! He failed to reveal the awful and defiled
He was put through hell, subjected to torture and reviled,
And simply beyond the smoky, dreamy human mind.

So it was that Eli was born midst a great war,
To replenish man's terrible toll of gore,
And grew up midst silent battles of many words,
Called Cold Wars by the Lotus-eaters many states.
Eli did not know, however, as he escaped Hell's gates,
That the long Cold War had turned violent and smoke rose heavenward.

Thus it came to pass that our young Eli
Strolled out of Hell's clutches into the depths of a lie,
Stepping not into flowered meadows white
From Lotus blossoms in their springing charm,
But rather to a bloody battle's enchanting harm
And the sounds of sacked temples bombed in the dead of night. 

As he crossed over a hill's rolling feathery crest
He saw gaunt apparitions of unrest.
For below him stood an embattled plain
Which convulsed under brackish fires and powder
Bubbling over the souls of Hecate's chowder,
Stirred up savagely with her ladle of pain. 

"Halt! Who goes there?" came a cry threatenly,
Rattling Eli from the hills windless lee.
Eli turned around to see a bayonet
Flashing its burnished death beam from below.
A drab green uniform stepped forward, saying, "So!"
"He's a deserter!" cried the soldier; "a filthy coward I bet."

Eli stammered, "No, no, sir. I'm just lost,
I did not know that.." The angry soldier crossed
His chest with his rifle, saying, "Come here,
If you're no deserter, where is your pass?"
Eli searched his pocket, "Pass?" he asked, "alas,
I have no pass." The soldier cried, "I've got a mutineer!"

Three soldiers gusted up the hill at the cry
And apprehended the deserter called Eli.
"Where's your uniform? How come yer naked?"
Asked one of the men binding Eli's hands.
Eli, being confused over the commands
Said no more as he was carried away naked and blinded. 

Oh lord, Eli was hustled into the war.
It was the very thing that his soul did abhor!
Down he was led, lower into the nauseous smoke,
Midst swirling confusion, a raging mob,
The din of canons, angry men in trenches which sob,
And he was now in the grasp of the embattled folk. 

Eli was jerked through a large oiled tent. His head swam
From the hysterical yelling in his face; a loud slam
Of the door behind him jolted his nerves;
Another tent, dimmed lights, distant faces,
Gunfire beyond, all gathered by thousand-fold disgraces:
This was more of a wrack than anyone deserves.

Then a dark blanket was thrown at his feet,
He was shoved through a metal door and faced the heat
Of a bright lamp over a metal chair.
"Sit down!" they said, and he trembled with fright
As questions were launched at him left and right,
While a soldier secured him by the hair. 

"Deserter?" they pried. "No? Draft dodger then!
No?" they pounded him and hit him again and again.
Their wrath began to boil: "Then he's a spy!"
The examiner sneered. Sentence was then
Served on him. Eli was mistaken
For a liar himself and condemned to die!

He was led through the malicious compound,
Walking in misery, head down, with both hands bound,
An innocent found without a right plea,
Forever to be entrapped by hate's awful aura,
To reside among the trampled flora
Behind the trail of the Lotus-eater's inhumanity. 

So it came to pass that he was denied,
Thrown to a turbid wind behind the tide
Of bloody hands reaping nature's silent bud
Into one huge basket of broken bones,
The sole testament of a jillion groans
And an endless river of flowing blood. 

Eli was hurled into a long deep pit
Covered with steel bars designed to permit
The foulest atrocities one could bring to mind,
For it gave no shelter, exposed him to rain,
Exposed to the sun, and even the urine of the insane
Guards! Such was the state of the Lotus-eater's kind.

Eli was confined there nearly forty days,
Eating once each day from filthy tin trays,
Wondering the while why he was kept alive.
He queried the guard above, only to receive a blank reply,
And stood in anguish for the trumpet, the call when he should die.
Then one morning he heard a train arrive.

The rusty iron grating above his head clanged apart,
The guard yelled, "Come on, it's time to depart!"
And threw down a wooden ladder for Eli to scale.
Eli weakly climbed from his deep, muddy pit,
And was hustled to the train and transit
From the filthy pit to even greater travail.

The train chugged across a desolate plain
Filled with the booty of a long campaign,
Speeding its freight to the Lotus-eaters death factory.
And Eli, packed in an old cattle car,
Waited silently, knowing death wasn't far
And holding Hope's solitary light in the crowded quarters of inhumanity.

It came to pass that the train's mortal cargo
Was disembarked to the cue of the factory yard. Oh,
Would I paint for you the bleak stone walls,
The chimney stacks fuming their mortal smoke,
To portray a just description of the horror,
In a fitting canvas of our Lotus-eating conqueror.
Alas! The cold works freeze my every brush stroke!

As Eli and his human death mates were driven
Through the yard, Eli saw the oven
Which burned incessantly as if Hell
Itself were burning in his mortal view.
In timid horror (he could not betray his horror) he cringed and withdrew
Looking to escape, his eyes searched the citadel.

Then, on the fringe of the denuded crowd,
He saw a lonely woman with head bowed,
Praying and holding filthy rags not fit to wear.
Eli walked closer so to comfort her,
And behold! It was fair Anna, still so demur
And fragile, with her blue-black silken hair!

"Anna," said Eli, "Is it really you?
My eyes deceive me. Is it really true?
He took her hand, her shallow eyes stared back.
"Speak to me," said he, "I thought you condemned
To the monstrous Halfway House with Hell's eternally damned!"
She said nothing, staring back with eyes cold and black. 

Eli shook her soft bared shoulder. "My dear,
Speak to me, you must!" Then a small tear
Trickled down her cheek, resting upon her upper lip.
"Eli?" she questioned, "Is it Eli, I pray?"
He squeezed her long quivering fingers. "Aye!"
Their tears blended, cheek upon cheek, lip upon lip. 

"Then you weren't condemned to the Halfway House!
I'm so glad," he answered. "Eli, my lost spouse,"
Said she, "You are wrong, I was damned to dwell
Therein. It is true. I was damned to such hate
Vile Lucifer himself would celebrate.
Love! I prayed you'd come to release the spell! 

My prince, you did not come! I cried out for you!
I despaired near here. If you only knew!"
Eli was puzzled. "I don't understand,"
Said he. "Oh, my love," said she, "I was married,
I lived, I was betrayed and so terribly harried
By the man to whom I gave my wedded hand! 

"It was the war which begot my torment.
I was so happy until then and and very content.
But I wasn't of my ruthless husband's faith,
And he turned me over to the police, in fear of his peers,
So not to suffer the state's scorn and the Lotus-eaters smears.
He saved his own life and delivered me to the wraith. 

"And now we share the identical Spector,
You the innocent and I the nectar
Of life's unsweetened, unmilled, chastity.
Alas, maybe it was fated. I was paid in kind
For my own weaknesses. It was designed
That I suffer from what I deigned to be! 

"But my love, my innocent young Eli,
My heart is heavy more because you also must die!"
He folded his arm around her shaking form,
And they stepped as one into the mass slowly moving
Towards a gate to the camp's outer wing;
He Innocent and she Penitent Reform. 

The procession stepped through the heinous gate,
And before them stood, but a moment's wait,
Two terribly long lines waiting to die,
Facing a monstrous trench half filled to the brim
With naked bodies so horribly grim
Eli cried out, "This is not true; it's my lie!" 

"It is a nightmare, it cannot be real;
Oh, my God, I pray to you, I beg that you repeal
This mad dream. I beseech you, Awaken me!"
A guard came and struck him on the forehead
With a gun. "Quiet, you, or your next," he said.
And Eli slumped towards Anna's trembling knee. 

Anna pulled her lover back to his feet,
Drawing him to her breast to sooth the beat
Of her heart as it pounded its last languid notes.
Gunshots cracked in the factory's stale air
As two victims were released from their despair.
Two more fell with death's rattle in their throats.

The two lovers stepped to the trench's bleak red skirt
And kneeled in prayer in the blood soaked dirt.
The clouds wept, shedding tear drops on the ground,
As cold gun barrels rested against each innocent's head.
Two blasts deafened their ears and they were dead,
Falling as one to the pit's dreadful, bleeding mount.

 


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Launched 10.25.97;
Updated 5.27.2000; 3.17.05; 5.29.14

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Copyright 1997-2014 Mel Copeland. All rights reserved.