How to Kill
Posted by pdxpogo 13 years ago
"How to Kill" by Keith Douglas, from Keith Douglas: The Complete Poems ¬© Faber & Faber, Ltd. Reprinted without permission.  
 
How to Kill  
 
Under the parabola of a ball,  
a child turning into a man,  
I looked into the air too long.  
The ball fell in my hand, it sang  
in the closed fist: Open Open  
Behold a gift designed to kill.  
 
Now in my dial of glass appears  
the soldier who is going to die.  
He smiles, and moves about in ways  
his mother knows, habits of his.  
The wires touch his face: I cry  
NOW. Death, like a familiar, hears  
 
and look, has made a man of dust  
of a man of flesh. This sorcery  
I do. Being damned, I am amused  
to see the centre of love diffused  
and the wave of love travel into vacancy.  
How easy it is to make a ghost.  
 
The weightless mosquito touches  
her tiny shadow on the stone,  
and with how like, now infinite  
a lightness, man and shadow meet.  
They fuse. A shadow is a man  
when the mosquito death approaches.  
 
***********  
 
I always imagined that snipers have poetry in their soul.