The Dress of Battle

The Dress of Battle

The battle is lost and
I have not saved anyone.
She left with
nothing to wear
and nothing to say
when I sent her away.

Empty wars she said.

She is not rescued nor
am I.

How do you know if
the sun will shine
when the night is dark
and she has left forever

It is so cold alone
to be naked in the night
interrupted by bombs

Why dress for death
when lost blood is warm

How am I to bleed well
when she doesn’t love me anymore
and there is no rescue. Honor?

I don’t think the sun will rise
and I have no clothes
but her memory

— Douglas Gilbert


10 thoughts on “The Dress of Battle

  1. This touches something in me, and I couldn’t help but reminisce about similar experiences I’ve had… This is such a beautiful poem, and the imagery definitely brought it to life.

    1. Thanks Rigel. It’s good to know something touched you. It seemed so vague when I wrote it and I wondered if it had any meaning for anyone. Thanks for commenting.

  2. This is so sad, it makes me get that “i could cry any moment” feeling in my chest…you know, the one that makes it harder to breathe, like something is pressing down on your chest and you try to swallow but it feels like there’s a lump in your throat and that makes it hard to speak and even though you’ll have a million things you want to say that are so important, if you feel like none of it matters or will make a difference, you’ll end up saying nothing at all and that makes the armor of a sad memory that you wear, weigh even heavier during the battles you face. Maybe she does love you but she thinks you don’t love her, especially since you sent her away…

    1. It was odd: the poem seemed to write itself mostly with just a few extra words added to tie things together when I had mostly finished. I had a strong emotional reaction also even though I wasn’t sure what I was writing. I was thinking it was too simple: warm and cold, night and day… I’m really confused sometimes about what critics say about it being easy to stir emotions but that doesn’t make for a good poem. I don’t know where you draw the line. They seem to want something complex but I don’t know what the criteria are. Maybe their standard is wrong: with some complex things I have no emotional reaction. Some poems that they put in the category of great I don’t understand at all even though they seem clever or intricate. I guess there are different styles. The Syrian poem with the pistachios had less impact somehow even though there’s more description.

      1. Honestly, i’m not sure that the critics know what they’re talking about. I mean, yeah they’re smart and know a lot about writing or whatever it is that they are critics of, but a lot of it has to be based on their personal opinion. If you aren’t a big fan of chocolate ice cream, then you would order a different flavor…but if you’re told you HAVE to do a review of chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla with caramel syrup then they probably wouldn’t give the chocolate as good of a review as they would have the one they would have preferred…ehh i think i lost my train of thought. Not sure where my rambling thought was intending to go after that statement. Oh, i think i was going to say that i think this poem made a stronger emotional impact because it connects to a sad feeling most everyone can relate to in some way or another (missing someone). So automatically you feel more of a connection with the poem and are more personally involved as you read it. It doesn’t have to be complex to create that connection…and perhaps being less complex also made it easier to relate too.

    2. Yes vanilla. I remember how shocked I was to learn what butterscotch was. I was told it was something very special to put on vanilla ice cream. It was the love that was intended to go with it as a special treat that was important. It tasted better that way. But it was actually butter and sugar heated until brown. Nothing much. And I didn’t know you could make it yourself. A lot of magic things are not magic anymore. Or it’s how you mix it that counts. Something to be said about the chef and her swirling spoon. Best to stay in the kitchen even if it’s hot I suppose when there’s singing and cool things. Yeah, I guess I would have given a bad review to butterscotch if I had known how simple it was.

      1.     ^Oh wait. Now I’m lost. It’s the presentation and layout of the simple things that matter. Is that what my above comment metaphor is saying? And it’s better if the critic doesn’t just look but actually eats the ice cream, um, unless they are lactose intolerant? Now I’m hungry… Oh, that’s why the critics look that way: it’s “brain freeze” from the cold on the roof of the mouth…and indigestion…

      2. giggling…i’m lactose intolerant but i love ice cream. I just have to take a tablet so i don’t get sick but i’m definitely not much of a critic but i think they should definitely eat the ice cream, even with brain freeze and lactose intolerance. The presentation and layout are important…
        You’re making me hungry…mmm sweets…
        When i was a kid my grandma used to only keep vanilla ice cream at her house but she knew i loved chocolate so she’d buy hershey’s syrup too…I don’t think i’ve ever even had butterscotch on my ice cream. I feel a little left out or like i’m missing out on something now…hmm, i also never knew butterscotch was that simple to make…it has me feeling brave enough to try it now. i looked up a recipe for butterscotch sauce: I think i could handle that…i’ll even add an extra pinch or two of love to try to increase the magical taste. I fell asleep thinking about butterscotch last night, i almost had a sweet poem and i thought that maybe i should get up and write down the scattered random poeticness, but i drifted off to sleep. I can’t believe that someone would ever give you a bad review, everything you write is beautiful.

    3. Wow… heavy cream and violent whisking… Now I know why I wasn’t making it as good as store bought syrup. The comments at the recipe site are interesting. You have to get to every last corner of the pan. I think I need a team to dance with me in the kitchen… maybe a butterscotch Olympics. I hope the Scots win and maybe we can share a scotch whiskey in case the ice cream melts too soon,

      1. Those comments are pretty interesting…i didn’t read down that far when i originally found the article…”If you are not breaking a sweat or getting sore, you may not be whisking hard enough” (giggle) It definitely sounds like dance partners are needed in this butterscotch olympics and sharing whiskey makes it sound even more enticing.

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