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In Times of Civil Wars

I

It is still widely written
that in Eighteen Sixty-Five
at the hour of his defeat
Robert E Lee rode to the
Old Court House, Appomattox.
Resplendent in uniform,
dignified, impressive, there
he signed the Articles of
Surrender. The war’s winner,
Ulysses S. Grant, tired, worn,
like his own dusty clothes,
counter signed. It was over.
Lee mounted his horse, rode through
the ranks of the victorious.
To a man they rose, silent
in respect and watched
the old man pass proudly by.
This is still widely written
and so I learned of it.

II

But not so widely written,
in August Nineteen Twenty-Two
Mountjoy Jail, Dublin, Ireland,
defeated Republicans
milling about the stairs and
halls of that desolate place
heard whispered like a soft
breeze barely bending barley
news of yet one more ambush
one more killing on the road
and so knew Michael Collins
was dead, one more awful death.
Sworn enemies of his side,
still, to a man they dropped
to their knees and in Irish
recited a Rosary,
prayers for the slain man’s soul.
This is not so widely written
my Grandfather knelt that day,
and so I learned of it.