When I come back what will the world have learned?

by Bob Elmendorf Issue: Fall 2018
When I come back what will the world have learned?
Will the courageous have shunned war’s scourge
covering the graves with flowers; ploughed berms

support a crop of corn?  Will tilling tractors turn
a boustrophedon where shells did their worst?
When I come back what will the world have learned?

Will mines have rusted and cluster bomb kerns
rotted beside white phosphorous? Will nature prosper,
covering the graves with flowers?  Ploughed berms

in hilly forts make a vista where uranium burned
a path through genes to a generation’s disaster?
When I come back what will the world have learned?

Will ammunition that the creeks have churned,
sog its last round, saltpeter pasture?
Covering the graves with flowers ploughed berms

sprout the swords of iris instead of germs
or gas hissed from its unfastened canisters?
When I come back what will the earth have learned?
Graves covered with flowers and ploughed berms?


Bob Elmendorf

Bob Elmendorf has been published in 45 magazines, including four poems in the current issue of Little Star. He gives infrequent readings and was in poetry workshops for 20 years. He has been teaching Vergil, Catullus, Ovid and Horace, and New Testament Greek pro bono to homeschooled teens for the last twelve years.