Perhaps they say hello first—
(There must be some kind of salute?)
In any case, the stripes being recognized,
the race for the last word begins...
Nothing is beyond comparison and
there’s always war in the air
as each sits in his garrison
battle-ready to compare:
Houses, friends’ houses, hospital rooms,
fish tanks, ex-lovers, or backyard mushrooms,
mopeds and seedbeds and money-stuffed jocks,
muscles and woodwork and comfortable socks.
They drop boast bombs on each other
from mobile phones.
When one says he’s sick; the other one groans
A remodelled kitchen, an extended garage,
a trip to the islands, a week at the Raj.
One endures the toughest job,
but the other’s is always much tougher.
One has had the roughest time,
but the other’s life's even rougher.
And if one hits the other in a surprise
the other pops into his foxhole and
pops out shooting back.
After counting their dead and wounded
they mope in their tents over maps of
And when the smoke has almost cleared,
and they emerge from cover,
they wave green flags
before firing invitations at each other:
‘Come over for a barbecue;
bring your swimmin’ rags’
(come over for another round
of the battle of the brags) .
And before Rommel lands his Audi in
the race begins for the changing of the
a new motorized toy or the latest
gadget or tool;
an imported new pump for last year’s
a video barracks and a wall-sized screen;
a barroom-style beer tap and pretzel machine;
a limo to the front row of a sold-out show—
whatever it takes to make a green face glow.
And if bullets run out and they must
resort to knives,
they run to their arsenals where
they’ve been storing their wives
who’ve been dabbing on war paint
and fixing their hair.
Take cover! The kids! —
their weapons extraordinaire.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
in their Treatment 36, Spring 1997 edition.
Comments about this poem (Patio Generals by F W Finney )
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