For Those Who Must Pay

by Tomas Aquinas Valasquez

After a battle
Silence is not golden.
It is ash gray,
And blood is not red
Where the silent lay,

And the odor of death
Is not sweet.
It stinks of shit
And rotting, butchered meat.

After a battle
The news releases say
“Our losses were moderate,
But the enemies’ were high.”

Victory was cheap,
Or so they imply.

I cannot see it that way.

After a battle
I’ve seen the dying and the dead
And visited the wounded,
And the medics,
And the nurses,
And the doctors
Upon whom the wounded
And the dead have bled.

And long after
I visited the wives
And the families of dead friends
And listened
To what they had to say.

No victory is cheap
For those who must pay.

“For Those Who Must Pay,” by Tomas Aquinas Valasquez originally published in City Scriptum ([Forum] 1992, City College of San Francisco).

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