Harry Farr
Executed by firing squad, 1916, after refusing to return to the trenches
     And as the intimate bullet enters
the kerchief pinned and fluttering at my breast
white as a moth, ash-innocent, I shall think
of the stars that doomed me, amniotic flecks,
flint-castings harrowing at dawn the iron
shell I cannot enter, cannot enter ever
again. For hear me, I was born
too far from beauty and have always been
away, a child who sought in soundless things,
painted butterfly or spotted mole,
the soul of beauty. They eluded me.
Man was the destiny I fell to, do not call
it fear that I refuse to put it on. Once
I knocked I heard the clicking shut
of doors down corridors forever. Hell
is like that. You can hear it in the dawn
in the dark disconsolate labyrinthine scream
of shells my memory’s almost become.
Hell is the echo of a quiet I dreamed
that haunts me nightly, dogs me as a child
will dog his mother’s shadow. Now we speak
of shades. I am becoming one with time,
the rifles cocked, my brothers in a line
like ripening corn—all ears, all ears—
I pity them. Would I were not the cause.
I would not add to this eternity of noise.
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