LEST WE FORGET WHO THE MONSTERS ARE
Even the stars were asleep when they came in the night
splintered oars lapping with the waves.
Only the moon saw the shadows disembark
creeping the streets like soldiers from Troy without honor.
Dog’s warning barks quieted by swift, silent arrow
watchmen bound and fed to the hungry sea.
(And the audience cheers)
It was the unwashed stench that woke the people
as filthy hands ripped them from their sleep.
Screams of terror broke the stillness of the night
sharp blades slicing fleshy throats, swords plunged into bellies
gurgles as unarmed men choked on their own blood
while reaching for weapons.
Tawdry laughter as the invaders stroked the soft skin of a frightened young girl
as one might admire the pelt of a fawn.
Shredded nightgown, bruises—tender, innocent flesh ripped and ripped again
her mother’s cries ignored
until the girl was still, and the beasts turned to the next.
(“More!” cries the audience, rising to their feet. “More!”)
Their expert fingers searched between wooden floorboards
turned over chests and beds
pocketing gold, gems, the silver candlesticks handed down through the ages
nothing sacred, nothing missed.
Boots chased after a woman round with child
heavy hands throwing her to the cobbled ground, lifting skirts
muffling her sobs as they took, and took, and took
then left her in a nest of blood.
In the final act, orange flames rose toward indifferent skies
erasing where children once played and husbands once held their wives
burning away memories of church bells and markets and neighborly greetings
and green gardens that once nourished lives.
Thick, choking smoke smothered all who remained
all who could not run
all who fell, prostrate, crying out for mercy to a god that turned his head
as the invaders loaded their booty, guzzled stolen wine
and sailed away in the dark to some other unsuspecting shore.
(And the audience sings of the thieves. “That’s who I wish to be! That is the life for me!”)