I read Meena Rose’s blog this morning and wrote this quick poem in response to her prompt to write an updated ending to Edwin Brock’s poem, Five Ways To Kill A Man. You can read Brock’s poem on Meena’s blog, click here. I will post an updated version the poem below in a later post.
I could not help but think that though there are many ways to kill, and it seems we continue to find new and chilling techniques each decade, that today we do it with ever more advanced means of distance and stealth. I also thought that like the reaper we are unable to completely wash our hands of our killings, even when convincing ourselves we are fully justified.
Our best literature has told us this time and again: think of the Lady Macbeth attempting to wash off imaginary blood stains; think of the holy scriptures where King David is unable to build the Lord’s temple because God told him he was a man of battles and had shed much blood. These stories and many others, gives voice to an eternal truth about human nature: once a person kills another, whatever the justification, they are forever changed and the killing never leaves them. It becomes their companion as if they had adopted a ghost. Some times this leads to madness, sometimes to numbing emotional death.
In the modern era I think little has changed. Thanks to our omnipresent technology we all have become active participants in killing. We watch from the comfort of our living room people being exterminated like insects while sipping on a cool beverage. I do not think that it has ever been made this easy to watch the death of others. And we, like the killers, are changed forever.
The Sixth Way To Kill A Man
— after Edwin Brock’s Five Ways To Kill a Man
Today, Edwin, death comes to us all
rather traditionally, like a thief in the night.
In an undisclosed low lit room the Reaper floats
rubbing his hands like a fly his vomit.
Below, men with joy sticks
stare into blue screens that flash
and discuss sand fleas and friendlies.
We are all witnesses to the killings
And like Death we often wash our hands
yet it seems in the nature of things
that we are high overhead looking down
as shadowy figures walk in sand
or on a busy street or broken bridge
and we know too watching them
we’re next, that technology marches on:
a mere speck in the wide blue sky,
a bee buzzing in the lilies
a bass-noted vibration,
mistaken for a hummingbird
or the incessant whine
of a gnat burrowing in one ear,
ever nearer, ever louder, until
reflexively we begin to raise our hand,
when the swoosh and thump
that is death becomes us.
The future is only a block away,
we see a man become
a brilliant flash of white light
dirty smoke and falling litter
and from an ancient instinct
we flinch, tuck, twist and squat
as if sitting on an invisible chair,
one hand grips our head,
the other curls and hovers
a few inches from our chest.
What do you think. Has the fact that we are witnesses to so much easy killing changed us?
Let me know. Leave your comment below.