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Epitaph for a Draft Dodger


Faced with a call to arms, he scorned those lies

That others packed like socks into their duffle,

Knowing that, winged by shot, no soul would rise

Out of the scuffle,


That virtue was no shield with ghostly glamour

To blind an enemy or block a shell;

That cased in ego's large Vulcanic armor

God-like Achilles fell.


Better, he thought, to slave, a hired man

For some dirt farmer, gnawing on wooden bread,

Than rule, a decorated veteran,

Over the wasted dead.


Thus citing precedents, he made his choice,

Never to march in ranks, now forward, backward,

Except to shout with others NO MORE TROYS,

Waving a placard.


Let others die.  He traced memorials

Which like long roll calls named those gone to glory,

Then in prestigious periodicals

Published their story.


Paul Lake



From Walking Backward, Story Line Press, 1999.

Reprinted by permission of the author.


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