Questions for the Inventor of the Flame-thrower

By: Keith Welch


I’m sure you were a lovely child
apple of your mother’s eye
a little boy who wouldn’t hurt a fly

Where did this odd idea come from
to dress your fellow man in flame?
Did you sit in your French class,
thoughts full of contorted corpses?

Was screaming your teen-age music?
Did you trade the fire of passion
for a vision of burning flesh?
Were bayonets not cruel enough?
Bombs that rained from an innocent sky
too impersonal?

You, father of a thousand blackened corpses,
ten thousand frozen pugilists of ash and bone!
You, the human Vesuvius!
You, the kerosene man!
You, the patriotic arsonist!

Tell me, did you die old in your bed,
under clean, cool sheets?

Categories: Poetry

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