Learning the History of War

As a child, keen on learning history
even from its frightening pages,
during a classroom discussion
of warfare and its endless sadness
you spoke out of turn, class disrupter,
and the teacher ordered you
to write the names of every war
on the chalkboard, watch spelling.

You spent half your youth writing the names
and escaped the classroom before
you were a fraction of the way through
whereas God, who much more often spoke out of turn,
was ordered to write the names of all the war dead
combatants and innocents
and is still at the chalkboard
writing in sorrow and mourning.

—J.J. Steinfeld