Let’s all agree that we’ve had more than enough of words
And the savage orders we all impose on words.
The felonious heart, scarred and worked over, condemned
To the tool shop, gear shop, sweat shop of words.
Grinding out the witless drill of not quite good enough,
Not quite what I meant to in the hatchet job of words.
The chain gang conviction to a hackneyed meaning
Sweating shackled beneath the warden’s eye of words.
Crack-brained schemes crafted in solitary, silences sharpened
Into caesuras, breaths pried between thick blocks of words.
The lock-step procession of penitential formulations,
Confessions forced out across the fortress of words.
The shoulder-to-shoulder lined before the firing squad
Against the wall blindfolded with a cigarette of words.
The slip in your bloodstream, fall and rattle into silence:
Nothing so dead as the aftermath of words.
Once they get what they want
we stop hearing about him
they get the bow and he looks
like death warmed over
relieved of command and of course
it never heals—that wound
festers worse than ever stinks
to high heaven—such a sucker
to swallow the standard issue
war time scams—camaraderie
and healing—the con games
of the generals and gods
he’s kept in his tent while
they put a new face—clean-shaven,
eager-beaver, bright-eyed killer—
on the Master of the Bow
keep this one confined to quarters
off the midway of History
cause it’s bad for morale
when the poison won’t come out
and you gag him—you’ll have to—
when he screams
Robert F. Gross is a nomadic writer, performer and theatrical director. Over sixty productions at the Bartlett Theater (Geneva, NY), the premiere of Kelly Burke's Zelda (London), Julius Ferraro's Micromania (Philadelphia), poems in The Camel Saloon, Epigraph, Dead Snakes, Danse Macabre, Sein und Werden, Philosophy After Dark. . .