How Sacrilege Happens, poem by James R. Whitley

      Beneath our undeserving feet,
      the ground bulges with
      heroes and saints.

      Thus, Death is the magic portal
      transforming every casualty of war—
      no matter if the fight was fought

      internally or on foreign soil,
      no matter if the deceased were
      sleeping soldiers or mere passers-by—

      into something exalted, better
      than they were when here.
      But isn’t this travesty?

      Or worse, a form of disrespect?—
      the thick mask of make-up on the corpse,
      the fool’s gold of the eulogy.

      As if to say to the dearly departed that,
      if left unprocessed, raw,
      your humanness is unpalatable,

      that we can’t appreciate you like this:
      perfectly silhouetted in the afterglow
      of your many radiant imperfections.

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Michel Gauthier