Mar 152014

by Sy Roth


How ugly we must look,

We musselmen, to them

In their green uniforms

their cheeks full and pink,

Teeth hidden behind lips

Tense like drumheads.


How ugly our stench

As it drifted to their side,

A stench we had worn like suits of armor

Announcing victory, our survival.


How ugly our shuffling gait,

Soiled bare feet kicking the dusty ashes

Of loved ones lost in the conflagration.


How ugly our silent stares

into an empty future

Where a bogeymen prison had disappeared

to be replaced by new barbed wire.


We watch them bent on the other side,

Sadness galumphing on their faces like camels

In an endless, arid desert

Unable to bear the burden of their eyes.


We turned away from them

Our souls wasted by an ebon diabolique,

Fearing their disdain, their horror

As they littered the soil on their side of the barbed wire

With their afternoon lunch.


We turned our ugly selves from them

Adrift in our own freedom

And let them think on the Hieronymus Bosch world

That was painted from their side of the wire.