Unwinnable Wars

By Alfred Yuson

Go ahead. You may kill her.
Sure, we could lose this war,
but only after we slay so many.

The happy five-year-old girl
bathing in some hovel, when
it was her grandfather’s turn
to bleed from fate of bullets.

The pregnant matron, who
just happened to be there,
maybe beside her husband.
Such is conjugal destiny.

Would they have rather left
separately? Would all the victims
have been giddier to go solo,
haloed only with cardboard warning
for others? We don’t care how many.

There’s enough of packing tape
to send off spiralling numbers
of justice’s inadvertent targets.

Suffice it to acknowledge tactics
to sow fear, confuse the real enemy,
so that they help us do the job
of daily slaughter. Who cares
about strategy? Some battles
are fought not for victory
but brutish determination.

There should be no slackening
when unreal figures also serve
as bull’s-eyes, or their periphery.

Unjust conflicts know no pause,
only extension, till no one cries
for mercy. Not in the name of rights
or wrongs. Only fools pick these apart.

It is the bloodlust that stays supreme
for recorded memory — of winged fowl
fluttering off, away from inhumanity.

Look. The skies are still blue. The earth
spins on, no matter how sorry the verdict
on the struggle. The blasts on the streets
continue. Win or lose, we will see birds
as fleeting specks against white clouds — 
like tears of orphans and widows
that dry up while we all move on
to craft the smiling crime of history.