Friday, April 24, 2009

The Last March

The summer sun shone exceedingly bright
Struck harshly on old men in a mid morning parade
Made the marching lane seem wider than it was
And, also, made it seem longer than they can walk

A late shutting lamp post cast its light feebly
A toothless veteran pointed to it and cackled
Mocking the uselessness of lamplight on a bright morn
The rest of the men understood and nodded in agreement

Old men out on a march on a hot cemented road
Dragging stiff legs and scuffing shoe toes with each step
Moving funny in a rhythmic shuffle caused by
An uneven gait of stubborn and unmatched legs

Little kids on the curb laughed heartily
To see a gang of elderly men marching to
The lilt of a marching band they hardly hear
Half bending stiff knees and stomping sore feet

Feet that have walked the long mile
Of death marches and humiliating retreats
Feet that carried comrades dead and dying
Midst the brutal prodding of ruthless bayonets

In the grandstand the local town officials
Sipped lemonade and munched crumbly cookies
Grinned amusedly as the old marchers passed
Their hands full of cookies, unable to wave nor clap

What a hilarious sight, they thought
Old men in raggedy faded unmatched uniforms
Gamely jerking tired legs offbeat with the drums
Kept pace with young maidens riding a floral float

Amidst the pomp and flourish of a glorious parade
Less than a score of decrepit derelicts of forgotten wars
Hobbled and plodded looking proud but hurting
On a hot and sunny day in the month of June

Marching to a band with faint drumbeats and muted fifes
Struggling to look smart midst the gaiety and glamor
Looking laughable to an amused crowd at the curb
Stepping in earnest to the beat of a remotely heard band

True heroes marching through indifference and apathy
Onward they moved, gallant and proud, yet, pathetic and comical
Through jeers and taunts of children yesterday born
And of uncaring men and women with amnesic minds

In a year their numbers would have dwindled and faded
No more heroes to take part in the celebration of our independence
Now spared of the unkindness of forgotten heroisms and won freedoms
Of the derisive fun and unwitting ingratitude of children and countrymen

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