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by Oswald LeWinter

The shadows swallow them
in small groups, some with guns,
more armless, others
dragging severed limbs behind.
All are dead, ghosts
too anonymous for monuments,
they left the taste of love

bled out of them, the bliss
of youth strewn like blasted guts,
in a strange place. They stood,
hardly past a boy's illusions,
hardened by death, defiant
at danger's snarl, fooled innocents.

They visit furtively, asking
in whispers, why we continually
increase their numbers,
weeding each generation for new
striplings we can feed stale ideals
that lead to crosses and parades?

We never leave them, or admit
they paid for our failures. In time
they fade out of our days into their last
photographs, darkening on mantels
and pianos they will never curse again
as they run out with bat and glove.

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