so tell me, will you, you’ve been there,
to war, i mean, that war, your war
i think, i know you know the score
i want your help to understand
this conundrum, unsolved puzzle
how it is god selects his side,
his team, and how he picks the ones
who get to say ‘god’s on our side’,
and who’s to live, and those to die
and who’s the one, who stands opposed
on that side fighting without god

ma’am, i don’t know a whole lot, but
i know there’s one thing that i’ve learned
there ain’t no god, at least not one
who picks or chooses who might live
or die and as for death itself,
it’s always seemed to me to be
just the way it is, the dice rolled
or a spin of some fateful wheel,
however spun, or thrown the dice
but there’s no god on either side

and, ma’am, as for the other one
the one you ask who isn’t god,
one you think’s on the other side
(you’d like to call him ‘evil one’)
well, if there’s no such god to blame
or any one who chooses sides,
there’s no need for another one
to be partnered to the other,
that missing one who isn’t there

then how is it i want to know
how choice is made who lives or dies
when the shooting starts there must be
some god who makes that election
there must be one who names the names
i mean, you know, the heroes, those
who’ll die today, surely they’re picked,
selected for hero’s honor
i don’t think that’s just left to chance

well, death’s no hero’s honor, ma’am
those dead men, you say are heroes,
but i don’t think so, nor did they,
no more than those forgotten ones,
those dead, too, on the other side
it’s all the same, ma’am, all the same
they’re all just dead, both sides, you see
no need of gods in war’s death game
and yeah, what i know, for sure, ma’am,
is that those only ones who die,
i think that’s what you asked about,
the special way they’re picked, or not,
well, there’s no god makes those calls
they’re just those time place fated ones,
they’re right where they’re supposed to be,
imagined on some disc of sand
so like this milky ring of stars,
when their last day comes to an end
and like the sand they’re blown away
discarded dust along the wind
as it all starts over again
like dylan’s wheel that’s still in spin
without a god on any side

still, you want another answer
so i guess maybe we could say
that the one who pulls the trigger,
fires the gun or drops the bomb is
the god who makes that final choice
so, yeah, god’s sort of on one side
if that’s just what you need to hear
but know that god’s still on the wheel
and might well be the next one gone
your dead ‘hero’ no more the god

…it ain’t religion, ma’am, it’s war,
a god wouldn’t have none of it

First published in 2016

© John Buquoi 2016 Reprinted with kind permission of the author