Quarto: Conflict Poem by Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)

Quarto
June 8, 2009

1.
Call me Sebastian, arrows sticking all over
The map of my battlefields. Marathon.
Wounded Knee. Vicksburg. Jericho.
Battle of the Overpass.
Victories turned inside out
But no surrender

Cemeteries of remorse
The beaten champion sobbing
Ghosts move in to shield his tears

2.
No one writes lyric on a battlefield
On a map stuck with arrows
But I think I can do it if I just lurk
In my tent pretending to
Refeather my arrows

I’ll be right there! I yell
When they come with their crossbows and white phosphorus
To recruit me
Crouching over my drafts
lest they find me out
and shoot me

3.
Press your cheek against my medals, listen through them to my heart
Doctor, can you see me if I’m naked?

Spent longer in this place than in the war
No one comes but rarely and I don’t know what for

Went to that desert as many did before
Farewell and believing and hope not to die

Hope not to die and what was the life
Did we think was awaiting after

Lay down your stethoscope back off on your skills
Doctor can you see me when I’m naked?

4.
I’ll tell you about the mermaid
Sheds swimmable tail Gets legs for dancing
Sings like the sea with a choked throat
Knives straight up her spine
Lancing every step
There is a price
There is a price
For every gift
And all advice 

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrienne_Rich

Adrienne:

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About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
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