January 29, 2011


by Lex Runciman

The chaplain sat at his desk. Have we met?
No. But you want me to support your conscientious
Objection -- you want me to write a letter. Yes.
Let me ask some questions. Could you kill someone --
An intruder to save yourself? No. What about
To save your mother or wife from rape? Yes.
Save a sister or daughter? Yes.

Where are you from? Oregon.
Do you love your country? Yes.
Would you serve the United States? Yes.
Would you kill its sworn enemies? No.
You would kill an intruder to save your family? Yes.
But not an enemy of the United States? No.

Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Quaker --
Do you practice any religion? No.
Believe in God? I don't understand the question.
You're afraid. Yes. You're afraid of battle. Yes.
Of letting others down? Yes. And these
Are your conscientious objections? Yes, no.
When ordered by a superior officer, would you kill?
I don't know, no, I would have to decide.
Wouldn't it be too late for that? Yes,
It would be too late.

You're a coward: you're a coward
And you want me to help get you off the hook.
I looked at him. Are you afraid? Yes.
You say you love your country? Yes.
You could kill to save your family? Yes, yes.
Then why are you here -- what are you afraid of?
Loyalties and confusions, I should have said.
Infinities, the worth of a day.

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