Small world, what, Excellency? We shall not shake hands.
I do not care how you manage to live with the murder of children
among the conquered women and spoilt vineyards and olivegroves
back in the Balkans, back in your youth: that is your affair.
But what you have done, to me and my world, that’s mine.

At last, our final meeting. You were an obedient officer
ordered to make a corpse of me, perforce a small one.
I have survived the madness to make a poem of you.
I am more generous than you and far more consistent.
Old soldiers like you in public life can still be of use.

Admit the past for the sake of the future, and go in peace
at the mercy of your smouldering, sordid, meandering memories.
Or dare to persist in denying the past and the value of life,
pretend that nothing occurred to stir your attention,
and I promise you will never escape the stench of corpses:

for I will record your name as well as the crimes
from which you say you averted your indifferent eyes,
in tales of horror to be recounted throughout the ages
till the end of the march of innocent future generations
to weigh up anew, again and again, and recoil from your life.

Thomas Land

If you've any comment on this poem, Thomas Land would be pleased to hear from you.