You Look in the Mirror and See Ulysses S. Grant


You Look in the Mirror and See Ulysses S. Grant

Poetry by David Stone

Take Grant’s Union Army, for example,
lumbering south through Virginia
trampling everything good and decent
after Robert E. Lee’s
magnificent killing machine

On a graceless monster rocks an alcoholic head
discarding the killed and wounded
no better than waste from a rock concert
scars that grow over, young trees coming
grass fed with bloody nutrients
rain and wind massage the brutal ground

Like Grant’s murdering army, we
leave char from supper fires
bottle caps, strips of fabric,
lies and mysteries, loved pets
temporary governments and brothers
spontaneous in battle.

Detritus spilled like dry milk,
some lost in battle, some in excess
rusted and dirtied, even some pure,
all fall behind us as from a leaky truck
with an insane agenda for what’s discarded
sloppy and hurt by inadequate consideration

Archeologists learn nothing from examining
the dross of our passing stages, 
dross once gold, dross once on fire

You look at it
like the vast universes of useless DNA
unable to decipher the lost language
of so singular a life as yours.

As each of us treks southward
driven by passion, commitment 
or the absence of something else to do
the debris trail of wasted condoms
diplomas, truth, beliefs, power,
lives and deaths partly digested,
books and movies, lost hours,
people loved and injured, our
autobiography dying with us,
as each of us moves along,
with or without grace,
we lose so much
we lose so many

Fresh ideas murder resistance
We can thank evolution,
personal and un-private
for our hopelessly messy 
unintentional diaries, written
in parallax from where
we expected to go


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