Joan Again | Stephen Mead

It wasn’t a dark dream which crept over me,
not like my mother warned, but a real war
& what had to be done. No,
how in the heavens could I possibly escape
the prophesy which chose me, though,
when it came, that’s what I desired,
to be useful, in love with the land,
the people, swamped, not the bloodshed,
not the blood.

I saw no one as enemy really, in the beginning,
before accusations. I saw only suffering
& tried hard to listen for an angel’s voice.
Long through nights it wailed, whimpered
of potential stakes, & yet even while paying heed
to go on was my part, the part which meant lead.

My god, but I hated the violence, the triumphant waste,
as so many fell & fell thinking we are right, we are right,
convinced of that on both sides.

Were they then? Are they now?
Lives lost in cannon’s fire or hand to hand,
face to face, the combat of swords, even the one
which I carried, slaying no one, though arrow-pierced
& advancing high as a rippling, a certainly torched
& tattered flag.

It can yet be found, that riddling belief,
purely symbolic in the stones, the pellets flung
through headlines. You know the names,
the territories & how many are coming forth?

How I would like to place my ear on each wrist
to hear the priceless booming heart
& have that humble echo amplified.
The I’d return to who I was
before all the wars & the voices, I confess,
the voices deaf deaf & blind to the outcome.

(Recorded as sound-collage, not in print)


A resident of NY, Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer.  Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online.  He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. In 2014 he began a webpage to gather various links to his published poetry in one place, http://stephenmead.weebly.com/links-to/poetry-on-the-line-stephen-mead