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Page 39
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Deserts of Civilization (poem)

By Dimitri Rimsky

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I have seen armies marching in the deserts of our civilization

I have seen the ruins of great and forgotten nations that lie beneath the indifferent Sand They Walk on

I have seen the swirling dust of countless warriors fallen before them rise up to sting their eyes

Throats parched by the bloody unrelenting thirst for power that blazes over them

but they are soldiers What do they care for all this

Soldiers know only this That they are marching Marching into the cold grey fog of war

That is where you have sent them Mr President that is where in our name you have sent them into the damp clinging embrace of death

They are soldiers They know this That is all they know That is all they care to know

it is enough

But it is not enough for me

The authority you have is not yours alone it rests on as little as a single vote


And in my name you have sent them

So Think on this Mr. President if all that stood between you and this adventure you have set upon was me

There would be no negotiating no compromises no backdoor channels no options no deals

Just this ultimatum if you choose to go to war whether the cause is folly or glory I do not care I only care that you pay a price

The price of moral leadership

These are my terms

for every soldier trained for combat a thousand jobless trained for jobs.

for every soldier thrown into battle a thousand homeless sheltered with dignity

for every wounded soldier a thousand hungry deprived and abused children must be cared for till they can care for themselves

for every dead soldier that falls in your cause a thousand Viet Nam veterans must be honored and helped to live out their lives with pride and respect

And if more die than that Or more are wounded than that Then thousands of elderly must be cared for and assured a graceful end

for every soldier That survives There must be services for them to find their lives again

Whether victorious or defeated We owe them Their lives back with privilege and distinction

And finally Mr. President for every dollar you spend ten dollars must be spent on education health care alternative energy pollution urban renewal farm aid and research

Yes research Mr President Not in the tools of war but in the tools of progress tools that improve the human condition New medicines for old diseases New cures for crippled lives

Yes the peaceful research and development of our future And all that we do must be shared freely With all the world

So that no nation needs what another nation has

So that no people are deprived by greed or prejudice The chance to share in our bounty and goodwill

Those are my terms Mr President The price is high

"Too high" you say? Then I say the price of this war is too high

"Too impractical" you say? Then what practical value does this war have? If it does not assure us a better future

These are my ideals unrealistic perhaps But what better ideals do you offer us to die for?

What ideals could you offer to justify the suffering you will cause

I put it to you No cause could be greater If you do not agree you lose my vote you lose the authority of your leadership your office becomes bankrupt you become Saddam Hussein

And I shall deny you the power of my one small stone placed on the scales of power

And you shall find my opposition at every turn

And I will stand before you and bring you down

You cannot command the human spirit to be still

—Dimitri Rimsky

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