In march the soldiers
with rifles on their shoulders.
out run through brambles
the locals with their bundles.

Off fly the envoys
contemplating new ways
of creating symmetry
in a future cemetery.

Up go the pundits
explicating bandits.
Clearly outworded,
down go the murdered.

The expensive warriors,
sailing by on carriers
flying Old Glory,
signal hunky-dory.

Far is the neighbor,
loveless or unable,
neutral or bullied.
Near is a bullet.

Deep dig new hermits
sporting blue helmets.
Reasonable offers
manufacture orphans.

Blood as a liquid
shows no spilling limit;
one might build finally
here a refinery.

Home stay the virtuous
with their right to watch this
live, while they are dining:
it’s a mealtime dying.

Soiled turns the fabric
of the great republic.
Ethics by a ballot
is what it’s all about.

Mourn the slaughtered.
Pray for those squatted
In some concrete lair
facing betrayal.

“Kolo” from COLLECTED POEMS IN ENGLISH by Joseph Brodsky. – © 2000 by the Estate of Joseph Brodsky. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. http://www.fsgbooks.com/
Poem was originally published in the New York Review of Books, July 13, 1995.

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