Rhapsody in Death

The music begins,

Despite everything,

With breathing.

In and out.

The sharp intakes of air

Are sometimes followed by an expulsion of carbon dioxide.

Each a blessing, the boon of the fortunate.

Who might breath once more.

Who might suck in air with their diaphragms

Who might sing, if they wish.

Who might have the chance to live.

Who might not.



High above, in the background

soars a gunshot.

Lonely for a moment,



Joined then by another,

Then two or three,

Until there are many bullets.

They reign

like hunting birds

swift and deadly.

They school

like flocking birds

loud and fearful.

They kill

like Death's own birds,

angry and alone.

What a strange percussion they make.



Add to this the fanfare

Trumpeting notes.

A frantic descant

A shrill trill of panic

Anguish and fear

Assaulting the ear.




Underneath everything,




Loud, at first,

then slipping away,

slick with blood and tears and regrets

and the heavy thud of despair.



On the front line

there is a steady melody

Voices calling to each other

Grim with death.

The melodic line of men and war:

Rising and falling

Running and calling

Slipping and crawling

Dead now, and sprawling.



And, churning against it,

A counter melody

Of hope and benediction

Of passion and conviction.

A counter melody that is not strong enough to fight

The things they are fighting.

It is drowning,

Choked by force and fortissimo.



Through that

There is no chance at all

That one might hear the breathing.

In and out.

Human and hopeful,

Yet somehow responsible

For the gunshots,

For the fear,

For the screaming

and the dying.

The breaths of air that create life and love,

that might sing a song,

that sustain a person.

The breaths of air that began the war,

that sing Death's song,

that sustain the battle.


Death plays on.

The End

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