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Petawawa Blues

We’re rolling down highway 17.

Recruiting sergeant said to me,

‘Boy, you’ll look good in green.

Make the fire cease and keep someone else’s peace.

And catch that Crescent Wind you’ve never seen.’

I’m an Algonquin woman born

a thousand years ago to my sun’s reveille horn.

Now I sometimes miss where one hears noise like this.

On the riverbank, all I do is mourn.

But my eyes belie these cheers I cry,

so I won’t ever lose the Petawawa blues.

The Great War didn’t treat me all so good.

It had my attention, didn’t know where I stood.

How long will this thing last? Been shot up, blown, and gassed.

I sleep in mud and blood and wire and wood.

My native womb’s been full of foreign woe.

It’s seen the women and the men, the babies come and go.

It’s cold and dark and damp, my internment camp.

Generations stillborn in the snow.

To end all wars was noble, but if failed

to end all wars. The blood was flush. The numbers paled,

piled deep against the senseless and the sensed.

I held your shallow breath until you exhaled.

Now heroine’s a name that sounds a knell.

Armistice is a junkie in a prison cell.

I can’t keep a truce. I get my juice

from the flower that you wear on your lapel.

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