Of wars and children and humans killing humans

I do not know enough to comment on all that is happening in the world right now, in Gaza, or Ukraine, or anywhere else. All I  know, and can claim to understand, is perhaps a little, just a little bit of the human cost. I have nothing to say, but silence feels suffocating now, and yet no words that I cam say will ever be enough. So here are two of my favourite poems, arranged in ironic, everlasting rejoinder to one another, utterly dissimilar yet strangely alike in thought and expression, dedicated to humans amidst humans killing humans, now and forever.

the crunch

By CHARLES BUKOWSKI.
Too much
too little
or not enough
too fat
too thin
or nobody
laughter or
tears
or immaculate
non-concern
haters
lovers
armies running through streets of blood
waving winebottles
bayoneting and fucking virgins
or an old guy in a cheap room
with a photograph of Marilyn Monroe
many old guys in cheap rooms without
any photographs at all
many old women rubbing rosaries
when they’d prefer to be rubbing cocks
there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movements of
the hands of a clock
there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it blinking in neon signs
in Vegas, in Baltimore, in Munich
there are people so tired
so strafed
so mutilated by love or no
love
that buying a bargain can of tuna
in a supermarket
is their greatest moment
their greatest victory
we don’t need new governments
new revolutions
we don’t need new men
new women
we don’t need new ways
wife-swaps
waterbeds
good Columbian
coke
water pipes
dildoes
rubbers with corkscrew stems
watches that give you the date
people are not good to each other
one on one.
Marx be damned
the sin is not the totality of certain systems.
Christianity be damned
the sin is not the killing of a God.
people are just not good to each other.
we are afraid
we think that hatred means strength
we think that New York City is the greatest
city in America.
what we need is less brilliance
what we need is less instruction
what we need are less poets
what we need are less Bukowskies
what we need are less Billy Grahams
what we need is more
beer
a typist
more finches
more green-eyed whores who don’t eat your heart
like a vitamin pill
we don’t think about the terror of one person
aching in one place
alone
untouched
unspoken to
watering a plant
being without a telephone that will never
ring
because there isn’t one.
more haters than lovers
slices of doom like taffeta
people are not good to each other
people are not good to each other
people are not good to each other
and the beads swing and the clouds cloud
and the dogs piss upon the roses
and the killer beheads the child like taking a bite
out of an ice cream cone
and the ocean comes in and out
in and out
under the direction of a senseless moon
and people are not good to each other.


Dover Beach
BY MATTHEW ARNOLD

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.


Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.


The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.


Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Peace be upon them… sometime soon. 



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