With my father’s Army ballpeen hammer I’d found
down in the cellar, I kept banging on the swordblade,
trying to turn it back into a plowshare like the ones
the prophets sang of. Plowshares? Hell, what did I know
of plowshares? Once more trouble was stewing—
you could taste it—what with old Shermans phosphoring
into ash across the desert, and all those blackened corpses
on the road to Tripoli and Hell. My right forefinger
stood poised on the passage from Isaiah, searching for
the recipe for peace. Too late, the pundits wagged. Too late!
Too late for anything like peace. A thousand generations
since Cain clubbed his brother in some field, and a million
cries for peace, for plowshares, say, and what’s to show?
The bells keep tolling in their broken towers for the dead
at Megiddo or at Manhattan’s smoking prow, as at Shiloh,
Passchendaele, the Bulge . . . and now in some hell hole called
Abbottabad. Four Blackhawks in and one already down.
And the ballpeen hammer bangs once more as some blinded
prophet scrambles from his bed. Ah, my father, look how
the plowshares keep turning into bullets, and the bullets into brains.