The Devil’s Foothold

by Talbot Strange

Entrenchments on a battle line, the Seine
The stamping footfalls of horses and the cataclysm of artillery
I fear the night, the booming flashes of conscience
Like siege engines drumming out the Devil’s tune,
Their recursive harmonies an allegory of a prophesied fate.

But here I stand, still here, alive yet drawn thin
Quivering, drenched in foxhole residue, helmet clenched
Peering over the edge onto the no-man’s land of endeavor
Waiting for the command.

In an hour of doubt, the seconds are eternities
The sadness of a moment clouds out every happy thought –
Like the sulfurous fumes of blasting cannons
Or the creep of chlorine oozing nearer;
Still, there is hope –
But do not give an inch, or the devil takes the mile –
Doubt is never satisfied, but like an addict
Clings to habit, blistering with entropic fervor –
The forgetfulness of noble intentions lost in the mire
Of daily disappointments.

Two answers are given to this dilemma; twin strategies –
One, abandon all hope; feel nothing –
No disappointment lies in the shadows of Nirvana.
Two, like Job, trust in God; something more, the divine.
Your heart is broken
Because you have a heart.

 

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