Weary was filled with a tragic wrath. He had been ditched again. He stuffed his pistol into its holster. He slipped his knife into its scabbard. Its triangular blade and blood gutters on all three faces. And then he shook Billy hard, rattled his skeleton, slammed him against the bank.
Weary barked and whimpered through his layers of scarf from home. He spoke unintelligibly of the sacrifices he had made on Billy's behalf. He dilated upon the piety and heroism of "The Three Musketeers," portrayed, in the most glowing and impassioned hues, their virtue and magnanimity, the imperishable honor they acquired for themselves, and the great services they rendered for Christianity.
It was entirely Billy's fault that his fighting organization no longer existed, Weary felt, and Billy was going to pay. Weary socked Billy a good one on the side of his jaw, knocked Billy away from the bank and onto the snow-covered ice of the creek. Billy was down on all fours on the ice, and Weary kicked him in the ribs, rolled him over on his side. Billy tried to form himself into a ball.
"You shouldn't even be in the Army," said Weary.
Billy was involuntarily making convulsive sounds that were a lot like laughter. "You think it's funny, huh?" Weary inquired. He walked around to Billy's back. Billy's jacket and shirt and undershirt had been hauled up around his shoulders by the violence, so his back was naked. There, inches from the tips of Weary's combat boots, were the pitiful buttons of Billy's spine.
Weary drew back his right boot, aimed a kick at the spine, at the tube which had so many of Billy's important wires in it. Weary was going to break that tube.
But then Weary saw that he had an audience. Five German soldiers and a police dog on a leash were looking down into the bed of the creek. The soldiers' blue eyes were filled with bleary civilian curiosity as to why one American would try to murder another one so far from home, and why the victim should laugh.
Whew! That is a a long passage. Weary beating the shit out of Billy after they are both abandoned behind enemy lines. Weary blames Billy for their predicament, even though Roland's war fantasies are equally to blame. Weary just doesn't understand how recklessly foolish he really is. He's worse than a bully. He's a former bully victim who preys on the weak. Billy is the weak in Roland's eyes.
In the Untied States (typo intentional) right now, the Roland Wearys seem to be in charge. Bullies abound, and the weak are huddling in the dark, waiting to be dragged into the light. I try to avoid reading the news every 15 minutes, which is about how quickly new Executive Orders are signed and new violations of the U. S. Constitution are made. I don't think I would be able to function if I read about everything happening in Washington D. C.
Poetry has become even more important since Donald Trump became President of the United States. There's a reason why writers and poets have been imprisoned, exiled, and murdered in places like Russia and Chile. Writers and poets speak the truth, and dictators and would-be dictators are threatened by the truth. But poets keeps writing poems, despite some Roland Weary threatening to break their spines.
Poets talk about truth, but, as Emily Dickinson advised, they "tell it slant." That's what makes poetry important in times of distress. The stock and trade of poets is truth. Emotional truth. Intellectual truth. Spiritual truth. When I read a good poem, I have this feeling when I'm done that I have learned something important about myself or my life or my world.
So, I think poetry is really important. It's a way to shed light in dark places. Give voice to the voiceless. Tear down walls that are being built.
Saint Marty is thankful tonight for poetry.