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When The Dust Settles

When the dust settles

and we take off our masks and helmets

remove our gloves and armour

kneel in the dirt

drinking water from calloused hands

When we bury our burdens beneath the ashes of last night's battle

burn closed our wounds and strap our heavy shoulders

when we stitch our human flesh back together

And the dew covers the canvas in the morning

and we roll up our tents and get ready to return

When we remove our brass knuckles and bump fists like we did it

throw away our bullet shells and save our broken arrows

taking their sharp heads and placing them in our pockets

When we wrap our snapped swords in bloodied cloths and call our worried mothers

to lay tables

and make meals for our return

and call on our grandfathers

to dig trenches and hammer crucifixes for those we carry home

When the dust settles

and we limp our bruised bones back through the mountains

through the red deserts and false fields of victory

When we lean back in our wicker chairs and toast to our survival

and tell cold stories of those we lost with hollow eyes like dead messengers

When we pick through the dismembered rubble

and call it a memorial

We pick up the pieces

and call it freedom

I wonder if we will remember to mention

to our children

through cracked lips and sand-paper tongues

that all great victories create great victims

and no one likes to lose

without coming back

for more

We don't just inherit peace

we also inherit

her circumstance

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