. . . occasionally. I thought I'd share a little bit about VICTORY: THOUGHTS AND POETRY OF BATTLE. My eloquently poetic and energetically expressive friend Alex Ness has graciously invited me to partake in several projects over the years. Our relationship began almost at the onset of my creation of Rogue Blades Entertainment, when we met at a small con in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. In that beginning, RBE intended to be a publisher of all forms of the heroic, from anthologies (our start) to novels, collections, poetry, even games. We labeled ourselves 'Entertainment' after all. And so a work of Alex's became RBE's first -- and now only -- poetry collection: MYTHIC MEMORIES. This collection is one of the most difficult yet joyful titles I'd ever worked on - it definitely is a 'delectable little verse collection celebrating the myths and memories of four ancient peoples -- the Celts, Egyptians, Greeks, and Norsemen.' Filled with public domain art and works from comic artist Trent Westbrook, MYTHIC MEMORIES holds a special place in my publishing heart.
Thus our relationship has been long, and as I said, Alex has continuously invited me to be part of unique titles, several that have genuinely ignited my interest. Yet my personal writing has been unable to match my ideas or my desires for a long while now, so inevitably I have failed to join him. Until now. This theme of battle and victory, how we explore victory, what is victory truly, is there victory in battle, grabbed me, sunk its musey talons into my mind, and began burrowing. As Alex describes, this title took a few years: he patiently waited on me to wring thoughts and words into coherent form, all the while adding to his own thoughts on battle and victory. Ultimately, while he shares the byline with me, my contribution is quite wee. Yet I am grateful, for his invitations and his prompting awoke a part of me sorely missed. While my words in VICTORY may not be much, and pale in comparison to Alex's, I am glad to have the opportunity to further explore my thoughts of heroics and my understandings of pain, valor, bravery, love, sacrifice, intent, hope, fear, sorrow, death, war, ideals, dreams, mankind, battle, and yes, victory. Here I share my short prose piece on 'War' from VICTORY: THOUGHTS AND POETRY OF BATTLE to bring you a taste of my ideas, the hint of my poetic voice.
Thank you for including me in this, Alex.
WE BE WARMONGERS
War. They say it’s a bitch.
They say it plays havoc with the soul.
They even say it makes any mortal a believer in an Ultimate Being. To curse or to beg, and that’s the war of the soul. Wars of words and weapons are many and frequent, yet though they are deadly--killing and driving to kill--it is those wars of the soul that doom a man, a community, a race, a nation, a world. These internal wars occur every day, across every continent, within every home, business, school, and government. They don’t need a battlefield to wage, logistics to determine, information to ferret, bodies to grind--but they will generate all that and more. They need only doubt and fear and jealousy and pride. It’s the results of these inner battles that trigger the words and weapons of literal war.
We must interpret both what S.L.A. Marshall has said, “Those who would understand the true nature of war must begin by understanding man’s own nature, in its strength and in its weakness and in that fine balancing of good and evil, compassion amid brutality, hope amid ruins, and laughter in the middle of death…” and Horace Walpole’s famous quip, “Life is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those that feel.” Interpret as we are able. If we are able. For to understand and to make conscious choice, that is what we do with our brief moment upon life’s stage, and what we choose to do returns again and again upon those around us, leaves the path for those yet coming to follow. In our struggles do we balance or succumb, keep alive the dogs of war or feed the doves of peace, raise high or drag low our fellows. Do we laugh or weep in the face of pain, spit or kiss upon the needy hand, stomp or share the cares around us. The war within can make one immune, callous, even ignorant unless one chooses to aim higher, to find a worthiness and dignity in life.
War is the destroyer of life, but lives can be devastated and empty long before war actually arrives. Death within simply opens the door and lays wreaths before the spectre of war. How then do we turn aside this nasty bitch, reject the hounds of hell, and lift one another up? How then do we save our souls from the no-man’s-land of warfare, the demolition of all that is pure and innocent, and return anew our eyes and hearts and minds upward into betterment? We aspire, we stand resolute, we believe in ideals. In doing so, we save a soul one at a time; perhaps not even our own, but the one beside us, the one behind us, the one to come along. Each in turn with such striving rises, sometimes to heroics sometimes to inspire heroes, but always rises, even again after any stagger, after any fall.
War makes heroes they say. And I say heroes can unmake war.
Heroes are balm to the soul, sanity to the mind, calmness to the heart, goals to the eyes. Don’t trudge beneath the woeful burdens of a war-filled soul that leads ever and only onward to death-filled war! Shove aside that baleful gaze and sprint to fill the widening gaps till brother greet brother, sister sister, and all stand arm-in-arm to face the frightening hordes of pain and angst and sorrow. . .and find them retreating before the mighty combined uplifting of mortal heart and immortal soul! United, clear in mind and thought, unstained in heart and spirit, we all together can thwack the tides of war and blunt its charge. Doing so once makes doing so again easy, and yet again a habit, until our new nature it becomes. Let us wage war upon war!
Let us who are about to die deny the toll on the soul. Let us wage war upon--?
Let us wage war.