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THE CASUALTIES: John Pepper Clark

The casualties are not only those who are dead;

They are well out of it.

The casualties are not only those who are wounded,

Thought they await burial by installment

The casualties are not only those who have lost

Person or property, hard as it is

To grape for a touch that some

May not know is not there

The casualties are not those led away by night;

The cell is a cruel place, sometimes a heaven,

No where as absolute as the grave

The casualties are not those who started

A fire and now cannot put to out. Thousands

Are burning that had no say in the matter.

The casualties are not only those who escaping

The shattered shell become prisoners in

A fortress of falling walls.


The casualties are many, and a good number well

Outside the scene of ravage and wreck;

They are the emissaries of rift,

So smug in smoke-room they haunt abroad,

They are wandering minstrels who, beating on

The drum of human heart, draw the world

Into a dance with rites it does not know

The drum overwhelm the guns…

Caught in the clash of counter claims and charges

When not in the niche others have left,

We fall.

All casualties of war,

Because we cannot hear other speak,

Because eyes have ceased to see the face from the crowd,

Because whether we know or

Do not know the extent of wrong on all sides,

We are characters now other than before

The war began, the stay- at- home unsettled

By taxes and rumor, the looter for office

And wares, fearful everyday the owners may return,

We are all casualties,

All sagging as are

The case celebrated for kwashiorkor,

The unforeseen camp-follower of not just our war.


Another favorite poem. We were forced to recite it off-head as a child. We are all casualties. I am dedicating this poem to America. Esp. to those that have lost someone since 911. My heart goes out to them and to all the soldiers holding it down on the war front. Please be safe.
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