On The Wire

O God, take the sun from the sky!
  It's burning me, scorching me up.
God, can't You hear my cry?
  Water! A poor, little cup!
It's laughing, the cursed sun!
  See how it swells and swells
Fierce as a hundred hells!
  God, will it never have done?
It's searing the flesh on my bones;
  It's beating with hammers red
My eyeballs into my head;
  It's parching my very moans.
See! It's the size of the sky,
  And the sky is a torrent of fire,
Foaming on me as I lie
  Here on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

Of the thousands that wheeze and hum
  Heedlessly over my head,
Why can't a bullet come,
  Pierce to my brain instead,
Blacken forever my brain,
  Finish forever my pain?
Here in the hellish glare
  Why must I suffer so?
Is it God doesn't care?
  Is it God doesn't know?
Oh, to be killed outright,
  Clean in the clash of the fight!
That is a golden death,
  That is a boon; but this . . .
Drawing an anguished breath
  Under a hot abyss,
Under a stooping sky
  Of seething, sulphurous fire,
Scorching me up as I lie
  Here on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

Hasten, O God, Thy night!
  Hide from my eyes the sight
Of the body I stare and see
  Shattered so hideously.
I can't believe that it's mine.
  My body was white and sweet,
Flawless and fair and fine,
  Shapely from head to feet;
Oh no, I can never be
  The thing of horror I see
Under the rifle fire,
  Trussed on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

Of night and of death I dream;
  Night that will bring me peace,
Coolness and starry gleam,
  Stillness and death's release:
Ages and ages have passed, --
  Lo! it is night at last.
Night! but the guns roar out.
  Night! but the hosts attack.
Red and yellow and black
  Geysers of doom upspout.
Silver and green and red
  Star-shells hover and spread.
Yonder off to the right
  Fiercely kindles the fight;
Roaring near and more near,
  Thundering now in my ear;
Close to me, close . . . Oh, hark!
  Someone moans in the dark.
I hear, but I cannot see,
  I hear as the rest retire,
Someone is caught like me,
  Caught on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

Again the shuddering dawn,
  Weird and wicked and wan;
Again, and I've not yet gone.
  The man whom I heard is dead.
Now I can understand:
  A bullet hole in his head,
A pistol gripped in his hand.
  Well, he knew what to do, --
Yes, and now I know too. . . .
 

Hark the resentful guns!
  Oh , how thankful am I
To think my beloved ones
  Will never know how I die!
I've suffered more than my share;
I'm shattered beyond repair;
I've fought like a man the fight,
And now I demand the right
(God! how his fingers cling!)
To do without shame this thing.
Good! there's a bullet still;
  Now I'm ready to fire;
Blame me, God, if You will,
  Here on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

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"On The Wire" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 10 Apr. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/32346/on-the-wire>.

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