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Peace in Our Time

After a while it’s easy to understand
Why soldiers need their wars
Why it needs fighters
And peacemakers
And after that the peaceful
Who can work without battles
Who can walk beyond the obstacles
Who can walk the streets without looking for a sniper on every rooftop.
Three hundred and sixty degrees of suspicion
Leaves a narrowness of vision
And when life is taken in short strides
Punctuated by dashes across the open spaces
All you see is another place to hide
Survival is called victory
You live to fight another day and visa versa
And in the end when the fighting is over
You are left boxing shadows
While others toast the phoenix.

Growing up, I lived in a new town
And watched it grow with me
I listened to developers in the front room
And thought the world had only just begun
Heads of state came the east and sat drinking tea in an ordinary house
Later they were assassinated.
Outside the town I listened to others
And while they talked of battles and comrades
I knew they had never left the field and I was listening to ghosts.

Later when I returned
I found the town had passed from the men of dreams
To the shadow boxers
And as I walked the shell of a creature dying in infancy
I wanted to shake myself free of the bedclothes
And wake up in the world I’d been promised.

It’s easy to understand the soldiers
And the barren landscape they inhabit
But what I want to know is
When they have finished
Why don’t we simply take away their guns and lock them in cinemas
Watching old documentaries
While the rest of us
Get on with building
What ever it was they were fighting for in the first place.