Scythe of Peace

Combat helicopters range overhead,
the omnivorous grace of military aggression.
Earnest-eyed Powers and Thrones drone,
hunting hard for something
to protect their feeble nation from.

In a public garden I try to seem un-threatened
by the predator’s dubious protection.
A mother and two small boys play nearby.
Spring flowers are starting to bloom—
with acacia’s fragrance, a chorus for senses.

1. January 2016

Our hired sailboat glides in white submissiveness
by the rock-strewn wreckage
that disguises the Navy’s submarine dry-dock.

We bow our heads, not in homage
but to soothe the inner and guilty temptations
of our touristical curiosity.

We salute without motion the megalodon subterfuge
whose apparent job for the nation’s security
is the confiscation of tourist cameras.

We confiscate our own cameras.
Locking up our cameras with our consciences,
we display the instincts of raw food.

2. August 1961

Before we embarked for a harbor tour
several wars and a half century ago
my inquisitive touring father
asked a Navy officer, “What’s
all that stuff under the tarp
on the ship over there?”

The young officer smiled lieutenantly.
He responded in an official tone,
a well-armed docent,
not unfriendly, not unthreatening
“That is stuff under a tarp”—

The officer smiled then, satisfied.
My father deigned not to peek beneath the official humor.

3. June 2020

“Don’t move!”

What exists of our nation now—
that which is not stuff under a tarp,
a very big and very thick and incendiary canvas?

One finger on the Tweeter button,
one finger on the red button,
our vaguely elected prepares to play the world

like a playroom full of slot-cars,
bathtub battleships, model airplanes, toy tanks, lead soldiers—
a small child’s elfin trigger finger

aimed at tiny plastic populations poised for melting.
Polaris missiles threaten
to erupt from among innocent bubbles in his tub.

“Don’t move!”

O, Mighty, hear our Public Prayer:
Allow us to protect ourselves instead O Lord of Hosts
from all the Hosts that contend to protect us.
Go all ye quietly out together and let us close
the door adamantly behind thee. And lock it!

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.