Upon Visiting the National WWI Museum
by Paul Juhasz

Above the museum stands Liberty Tower, visibility ten miles on a clear day.
The visibility inside the museum stays at is zero, no matter the weather.

People shuffle through room upon room filled with the tools of Death,
Their eyes glazed over as they read of the buildup and the causes:
of an exponential advance of technology,
of dreams of Empire,
of a lust for land,
of wealth concentrated in the hands of a few,
of the rise of nationalism,
of divisions based on ethnic and racial identity.
We are us, they are them.

Then the spark: Ferdinand,
And the pyre: thirty-eight million bodies.

A woman pretends to read the placard in the case before her,
while eyeballing the dark-skinned man to her left.
She is convinced he has a bomb and is about to kill us all.
She does not understand that India is not in the Middle East,
and it probably would not matter if she did.
Dark skin is dark skin.
We are us, they are them.

A man with a red hat declaring yellow promises sadly shakes his head in front of bayonet display
wonders how men could do such things to each other.
Tonight, he’ll watch clear and balanced news, and pray we shove a nuke straight up
Kim-Jong Un’s ass.

In a soundproof room, Wilfred Owen
tells us “dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”
is bullshit propaganda.
But the room is empty

Somebody once said, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”

The Kaiser and Wilson; Putin and Trump.
Doklan; the Somme
Guam; Verdun
The “Young Turks”; Charlottesville.
The Eastern Front; the South China Sea.

I make my way to the exit,
the doomed shuffling
To await the coming spark.

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