Cerebus

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.”
-Shakespeare

What do the howling hounds hear that we can’t?
The moon sharpens its sword on the Earth’s stone.
Palm trees on the shores of the Tigris stand sentinel,
silently releasing sweet dioxide into nightscope green air.
In the mountains Kurdish children shiver beneath battered tents
of plastic sheeting, ravens spread petrol black wings.
We cross desert sands to burning oil wells,
poised on banks of poison water that corrodes everything
but hooves of apocalyptic horses, wheels of humvees and tanks.
When we reach the adamantine gates of Iraq
it’s too late to turn back.

Beth Copeland’s book Traveling Through Glass received the 1999 Bright Hill Press Poetry Book Award, and her second poetry collection Transcendental Telemarketer was released by BlazeVOX books in 2012. Two of her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is an English instructor at Methodist University.

This poem comes courtesy of Split This Rock, which promotes the work of socially engaged poets.