Artwork © DL Polonsky


Canto XV
A War Papyrus

Simian, and sentient only in
Heightened senses and emotions
That seem to compensate
For lack of words and logic,
They organize in inarticulate bands of a
Shared stratagem, tacit and palpable
For these fright and capture machinations
On the respited peregrinations
Of a descending fog of monkeys.

Those involved in the hunt are
Delegated specialized roles
To either be catalysts of these top tiered
Frights or, as a consequence
Of the fleeing stampede
Swinging high from limbs and vines
And the inevitability of some in this chaos
Falling from these thin, easily broken tentacles
To the sky like leaves to wind,
To slay and carry off the fallen as meat

All for these predators
And their kind
To maintain
Physical prowess
And hegemony
In the jungles

Then there is the human animal
Urban, urbane, and unkind
To all species including itself, and
When most peaceful – –
No Adonis to the boar is he–
Domesticating animals
For easy slaughter;
Thus, at best, attested both cruel and craven,
With meat refrigerated, sublimated savagery.

If only this monstrous being
Anthropomorphic, egotistically driven individually, and
Highly manipulative of the world collectively
Could have evolved
From modern chimps
In lieu of the ancestor of
An extinct transitional ape conceivably
Much more savage than this,

Ukrainian atavisms would not be
Anachronisms of World War I
Fighting from trenches,
Dying in their holes at the crack of dawn
Not only from the hordes of Russian
Ants attacking sparsely populated
Eastern Ukrainian termite tunnels,
But thawing water and mud
Flooding, avalanching, burying those half asleep
In those trenches.

If there is any consolation
That routing confused
Blood saturated chimps
That had sought to enlarge territory and failed
Will return to what they
Think of as home
Thieving, raping, and murdering
Those of their own clan
It would be short-lived.
Veterans with cracked psyches
Bleeding blood of the deceased
They slaughtered in savagery
Greater than instinctual survival
And thus contrary to nature itself
Are in both armies.
If only war, both civil on its kind and
Uncivil on nature, could be buried
Then man could be said to have actually evolved.


Steven David Justin Sills is a literary writer living in Bangkok Thailand. His book of poetry is in many libraries in the United States and a copy of one book owned by a library was scanned by the Internet Archive. Sills’ work can also be found on the Online Book Page at the University of Pennsylvania. Sills finished his last literary novel The Three Hour Lady a year ago, and since that time he has been devoting himself to writing a long war poem about what is happening in Ukraine. This is the 14th month and the 14th canto.

DL Polonsky is a Boston area artist, writer, and filmmaker. His caricatures have appeared in The Boston Herald and His written work includes the children’s book The Letter Bandits from T.B.W. Books.