Sunday, February 19, 2006



by Richard E. Noble

As I pulled each foot, pace after pace, and drudged about the yard,
Hating, despising, but keeping my place, and finding it increasingly hard.
I pulled my bitterness up from the pace, and stared at the spacious sky.
The hate siphoned down to the tips of my toes, and fancies shrouded my head.
Though not in the least did it assuage my woes, for hatred is never dead.

“Follow the song of the dead,” They said.
“Follow the song of the dead.
The dead are the spirits who know, yes know...
The dead are the spirits who know.”

I just walked in rank while my spirit sank, and my head began to bob.
But as the pavement slipped, and the leather gripped, they were only doing their job.
Their job ... it was, to keep us in step ... step, upon step, upon step.
Step to the pace ... the pace of a race ... they’re only doing their job.

I turned from the thought which cruelty wrought and returned my head to the sky.
But upon this thought, my vision caught, the horror of those who die.
And now entwined with the song of the dead, an apparition before my eye...
All ragged, worn and weary souls were marching across the sky.

“Come join the ranks of the dead,” They said.
“Come ... join us rancorous dead.”

And on they marched, across the sky, a line which had no end,
Moaning, and groaning, with ghoulish cry, the rancorous song of the dead.

“The dead are the spirits who know, yes know ...
The dead are the spirits who know.”

I closed my eye to the specter nigh, and frantically shook my head.
But in my ears, yet, the lingering cry, in the raucous tone of the dead.

“Follow the song of the dead,” They said.
“Follow the song of the dead.”

With averted eye, I shunned their cry, as yet they marched over head.
I chained my pace, and firmed my step, fearing to loose the beat.
One and two ... one and two ... Conform you feet to the beat.

I walked and walked, it seemed like miles, avoiding their deathly smiles.
But then as I looked, aside of my foot, another was pacing the same.
With horror, I shook, as his hand he put, and cooled my sweating palm.
With a frigid flame, he called my name. He tugged and yanked at my arm.
I confused my step, then shuffled from harm and joined again with the real.
But with a voice that quelled, I heard him yell;

“You’re just a spoke in a wheel.
You may march away and avoid our song,
but shortly your heart will swell.
Never can you march away from the throng,
and pass by the flames of Hell.”

With a demon-faced fear, I remember his sneer, as he rejoined the ranks of the dead.
He was last in line ... then the skies turned clear, and my face from white to red.

Well, that was a day I won’t forget, and here I am marching again.
The sky is bright, and my spirits light. It’s the happiest day of the year.
Above my head, there’s a cloudy bed, and everything seems so dear.
A smile on my face, as I skip to the pace, mocking that ghoulish sneer.
With fences around, and the treacherous sound, flowing beyond the barbed wire,
I laugh at the race, and grin at the face, as marching we tramp by the mire
The soggy and snake ridden mire ... that offers no hope or desire.

But as I walk, I hear the clock, cracking away like fire.
But oh, not again! ... It can’t be again! ... And I turned my head to the clouds,
A huge mass of white, towering in height, sailing across the sky.
Like a desert of white, on a sea of night, it brings me a breathless sigh.
It’s motion aloft, so flowing and soft, beckons me to its choir.
My head, it spins, as my heart it wins, and I dance to the glorious choir.

But then a dull tick-tock, as I hear the clock, and my feet head for the mire.
The guard screams ... “Halt!.. .It isn’t my fault!” and now I’m before the barbed wire.
The clouds they beam like a cascade of dreams, as I watch them float up higher.
“HALT, OR I’LL SHOOT!” And the whistles, they toot... “HALT, OR I’LL BE FORCED TO FIRE!”
But my feet had no fault as they mocked the assault, and climbed the treacherous barbed wire.
“To freedom!” They sing. “We’ll fly you right over the mire.”

Well, as the clouds ... they dance, my feet ... they prance, and the guns begin to fire.
But with a few more steps ... just a few more steps, I’ll be slouching my way through the mire.
Then I heard a ringing, and angels singing. And as I followed the clouds ahead,
It seems the voice of Destiny’s choice, chanted to me and said;
“Turn yourself around, and see what you’ve found.” And there, I saw myself ... dead.
Floating in the mire, my body swept higher, as they lifted me from my bed.
The sky all red, in torrents it bled, like my body afloat on the mire.

Then, back through the gate enclosed by the wire, watching my body with dread
I heard the beat ... The beat ... of the feet ... of the dead ... and that same ghoulish voice ... it said;

“Come follow the song of the dead,” He said.
“Come follow the song of the dead.
The dead are the spirits who know, yes know.
The dead are the spirits who know.”

“You’ve joined the ranks of the dead,” They all said.
“You’ve joined the ranks of us ... dead.”

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