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Iron Maiden, 'These Colours Don't Run'

These Colours Don't Run

It's the same in every country
When you say you're leaving
Left behind the loved ones
Waiting silent in the hall
Where you're going lies adventure
others only dream of
Red and green light this is real
and so you go to war

For the passion, for the glory
For the memories, for the money
You're a soldier, for your country
What's the difference, all the same

Far away from the land of our birth
We fly a flag in some foreign earth
We sailed away like our fathers before
These colours don't run from a cold bloody war

Here is no one that will save you
Going down in flames
No surrender certain death
You look it in the eye
On the shores of tyranny you

Crashed the human wave
Paying for my freedom with your
Lonely unmarked graves

For the passion, for the glory
For the memories, for the money
You're a soldier, for your country
What's the difference, all the same

Far away from the land of our birth
We fly a flag in some foreign earth
We sailed away like our fathers before
These colours don't run from a cold bloody war

By 'Iron Maiden'

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Alice Corbin, 'The Great Air Birds Go Swiftly By'

The Great Air Birds Go Swiftly By

The great air birds go swiftly by,
Pinions of bloom and death;
And armies counter on shell-torn plains
And strive, for a little breath.
Pinnacled rockets in the gloom
Light for a little space
A gasping mouth, and a dying face
Blackened with night and doom—
As if in a little room
A sick man laid on his bed
Turned to his nurse and questioned when
Mass for his soul would be said.
Life is no larger than this,
Though thousands are slaked with lime,
Life is no larger than one man’s soul,
One man’s soul is as great as the whole,
And no times greater than Time.

By Alice Corbin
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Kelly Corrigan, 'I Would Swing'

I Would Swing

If you took my husband away from me
Just because, say, he had blue eyes
Or a hairline you found objectionable
Or maybe because you didn’t like the cyst
that waxes and wanes
On his back
I would not make a poster
Or write an op ed
I would buy a sledge hammer
I would swing it into plate glass
Until I could make you feel
As endangered and disposable
As I felt.

I would need you,
As all people do,
To feel how I felt.
I would need to see you sit up,
Pull yourself out of a dream
Into a worse reality,
Will my neck be broken next?
Will my true love be made still
Under the knee
Of a righteous man
Who has all the rights I don’t
And knows it?

If you screamed into your iPhone
That my husband and his heritage
As a European-American
was assaulting you
By suggesting your dog
Needed a leash in the park
That was all of ours
I would not be polite in my response
I would not find a lawyer
And wait patiently for an “authority”
To maybe side with me.

Physical madness, if you ask me,
Is the most natural and understandable reaction.
Unproductive, sure.
Counter productive, yes of course,
But natural and understandable.
I know this in my body and your body knows it too.
Put your blue eyed husband
Under the knee of a public “servant”
for nine minutes
and when his heart stops forever
you tell me if you reach for a magic marker,
your laptop
or a sledge hammer.

by Kelly Corrigan
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Rudyard Kipling, 'The Female of the Species'

The Female of the Species

When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

When Nag the basking cobra hears the careless foot of man,
He will sometimes wriggle sideways and avoid it if he can.
But his mate makes no such motion where she camps beside the trail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

When the early Jesuit fathers preached to Hurons and Choctaws,
They prayed to be delivered from the vengeance of the squaws.
'Twas the women, not the warriors, turned those stark enthusiasts pale.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man's timid heart is bursting with the things he must not say,
For the Woman that God gave him isn't his to give away;
But when hunter meets with husbands, each confirms the other's tale—
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man, a bear in most relations—worm and savage otherwise,—
Man propounds negotiations, Man accepts the compromise.
Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact
To its ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

Fear, or foolishness, impels him, ere he lay the wicked low,
To concede some form of trial even to his fiercest foe.
Mirth obscene diverts his anger—Doubt and Pity oft perplex
Him in dealing with an issue—to the scandal of The Sex!

But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame
Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same;
And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail,
The female of the species must be deadlier than the male.

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By Rudyard Kipling

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Yellow Girl, 'I Died In Battle'

I Died In Battle

I was killed in battle
the battle for my life
I was killed in battle
the battle for the loved ones in my life
I refuse to stand around
and be pushed around
as my rights are being stripped away
so, I will not hold my tongue
like everyone else has done,
so, as you all sit around and hold your tongues
I will be in battle, fighting for our rights
so we can roam freely,
and live equally
and now you know why I died in battle.

By 'Yellow Girl'
(inspiration: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 18, 2021
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 'Decoration Day'

Decoration Day

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry's shot alarms!

Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon's sudden roar,
Or the drum's redoubling beat.

But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.

All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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Mai Der Vang, 'I Am the Whole Defense'

I Am the Whole Defense

Mid-1700s, Southwestern China

Lightning is the creature who carries a knife.

Two months now,
The rains hold watch.

Statues bury in teak
Smeared with old egret’s blood.

I feel the pulse of this inferno,
Tested by the hour to know

That even torches must not waver.

In the garrison, I teach boulders
To trickle from the cliff.

My fallen grow parchment from their hair,

Calligraphy descends
From their lips.

Infantry attack
But my musket knows.

They scale the sides
Yet I tear the rocks.

I am not wife, but my name is Widow.

Let them arrive
To my ready door,
The earth I’ve already dug.

By Mai Der Vang
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Charles Simic, 'A Book Full of Pictures'

A Book Full of Pictures

Father studied theology through the mud
And this was exam time.
Mother knitted. I sat quietly with a book
Full of pictures. Night fell.
My hands grew cold touching the faces
Of dead kings and queens.

There was a black raincoat
in the upstairs bedroom
Swaying from the ceiling,
But what was it doing there?
Mother's long needles made quick crosses.
They were black
Like the inside of my head just then.

The pages I turned sounded like wings.
"The soul is a bird," he once said.
In my book full of pictures
A battle raged: lances and swords
Made a kind of wintry forest
With my heart spiked and bleeding in its branches.

By Charles Simic
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Taryn Evendim, 'The Ninja and Samurai Sam'

The Ninja and Samurai Sam

Oh, there once lived a lad in a shack by the sea,
Where the mist and the seagulls fly,
And just one dream had he, that someday he would be
A great ninja, by and by.

Now this lad was a bit of a dim-witted lout,
And a tad on the clumsy side,
And whene'er he went out, he would stumble about,
But this had no effect on his pride.

So he said to himself, "I am agile enough,
And I'll learn with incredible speed!
All this ninja stuff, it's not really that tough;
Just some practice is all that I need."

So he went to the closet in his little shack;
Through its contents proceeded to root:
He took down from the rack anything that was black,
Saying "HALF of a ninja's his suit!"

When he wore it, he said "Well, it itches a mite,
But, oh lordy! How macho I look!
I'll blend right out of sight in the dead of the night,
And it's just like the one in the book!"

So he went out to practice his creeping around,
And with usual elegant grace,
He fell flat on the ground with a terrible sound
And looked up... to a REAL ninja's face!

He arose, and with vigor he pumped the gloved hand
With a grin and a wide-eyed stare,
Saying "Fate has been kind! You're not easy to find!
I've been looking for you everywhere!

You look like the Chief, so to you I will plead:
Won't you take me and teach me your skill?
A talent like me would be just what you need,
And myself, I could do with the thrill."

And with that, to the Chief's great dismay, it did rain
Giggling ninjas from out of the trees,
Who with obvious strain their composure regained,
For that's NOT how they like to be seen.

When they all had recovered their normal grim state,
And the last of the laughter had died,
The Head Ninja said "Wait, while we ponder your fate,
And we'll let you know what we decide."

Then he gathered together his men, and he said
"Killing this one would be far too mild!
He would be no fun dead, so let's let him instead
BE a ninja... at least for a while!"

So they plotted with many a cackle and grin,
Till at last they came up with a plan;
The Chief said "You're in, if you just do one thing...
You must murder the Samurai Sam!"

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By Taryn Evendim

(Happy birthday to the Bard.)