Ares’ Song

Let there be war.

Let us open all the doors
And invite the ghosts in.
Let us empty the cupboards,
Dig up all the bones
And lay them out: let there be war.

Let the wheels turn;
Enough of this stagnant peace
That is no peace at all.
The thundering lie torments me;
I am disgusted by the deceits that
Underpin it.
Better the honesty of war
Than the deceptions of a false peace.

Line up my enemies;
I will cut them down
And bow to their deaths.
I will honour them like brothers
Who meet me on the battlefield,
But for the cowards of this war
I bring only your burning house,
Your ruined fields,
Your broken family.
Be brave and die well;
Hell has a place for the coward
But the noble dead line the halls
Of Heaven, rejoicing.
Now, come, let my sword feast
On your nobility.

War on falsehood;
War on the idiots;
War on greed;
War on all that divides me
From you and

Let all my enemies perish.
Let the dark and the light alike
Be equalised in victory or defeat.
But let there be war.

I will cut the wings from angels,
Pull the horns from demons’ heads;
I will wade through the blood of
Good and bad alike,
Because the war is endless.

Constantly arising,
Falsehood blemishes the page.
There is always the Foe,
Always the battle raging all around me.
For others, peace and the green field.
For me, the slice of sword
On shield
On skull
And bone.

(And now we sit here,
The silence growing vines
About our tongues.
Poisoned water in the well
And the list of crimes
Between us.
Let there be war.
Let the land burn.
Let the forests fall,
The mountains echo with
Blade on bone
Steel on stoney face
And all the armies of us
Exhaust themselves in a tide.
Let there be war.
Let the rivers run red
For a season;
Let the borders close
And all the songs be of
The bloody fight.

Kiss and make up?
Let there be war.
Turn the other cheek?
Let there be war.

The air is thick with lies.
The forests are tangled with briers.
The mountains are full of thieves
And the rivers are choked with weeds.
Let there be war
And purging
And the redemptive fire
Of death and glory.)

Fight me.
I said, ‘Fight me.’
Do not be understanding.
Do not yield for the peace.
Do not bend yourself
Any more
From the shape you were born to.
Who are you?
Show yourself, truly, or not at all.
Stand on the dusty battleground
And fight me, as you are.

Screw politics.
We are warriors,
Or could be.
I cannot sit yet on the porch
And rock myself to senility
Telling tales of former glory
And the comrades I once knew.
The war goes on
All around us.

Fight me,
Then we can turn together
Towards the innumerable foes.

How can I know your strength
If you will not show me?
I do not yet trust your sword
Beside mine.
Those who have not fought,
Do not know one another’s shape.

How can I love a man I have not fought?
How can I love a woman who fears me?
Fight me.
Let me feel your strength;
Let me measure you,
That I may then love you,
Knowing who you are.

Let the heavens open
and arrows rain down;
Let Hell burst on the Earth.
So long as I have a sword in my hand
and an enemy before me,
I will never be displaced.

Do not curse me with peace.
I would fade like the captured tiger
Or the dark, cut flower.
Fence me around with Peace
And I will make War with it.

Bring me a war!
There must be a war, somewhere!
(For how can I know who I am without battle?
Though I have seen boys become Men,
Become corpses
In an hour,
I have seen such a flowering of life
Before Death
As I have never seen
In all the village halls
And householders’ days
I have ever known.)

Come here!
Come to me!
I am not afraid to die in front of you,
Only afraid to die without living.
(And if I should die by your sword
Or your powerful word
Or your look at me askance,
I will die happy
And real
And full of blood and laughter and fire.)

Oh, do not let me die in bed!
Unless I was fighting there
A battle worthy of my death.

I know.
You think I am a thug
To speak thus of War.
Admit it!
Speak true words!
You see a brute, a warmonger.
An iron fool.
Listen to me.
I am playing my part.
I am playing my part.
Play yours!
Without fear.
At least I know what mine is.

Are you a child to cower in deception?
Be a man! Be a woman!
Bring me someone real
To spar with,
I am sick of your foolish illusions,
Your pretensions of mortality.

I have nothing to hide.
Do you understand?
I have nothing to hide.
And so I am
A God.
Now fight me.


11 thoughts on “Ares’ Song

  1. A call to wake up and cast off the horrendous weight of fatigue and boredom of these times. The armies of Mordor are all over the place,.. Amazing writing Tom, I hear you! Love x

  2. At the risk of getting stabbed…

    Perhaps you should join the TA?

    Or organise a jolly good pillow fight…

    Like the web /blog page, very pretty.



  3. ai ai ai, that was actually a very precise and fitting piece of writing for my current state… between the shores of light and dark great powers are at play…
    thank you, from a becoming warrior of light…

  4. red beads strung well poet soul
    only the hang around the neck for a while
    and change meaning as time goes by such slippery things words are.. there is a time for everything under the sun it is only a moment not frozen in time.
    your sword of truth is like a machine gun at times… sagg flys the burning arrow of truth, and emotions that are hard to find fly.
    i think its well written and truthfull what else can you ask for in poetry?
    well done
    pamela goodwin

  5. Ah! Here are the words I’ve almost said, every single day, watching our corporatist government go through its rites, rites as old as history.

    All around me, people cry out, “Silence! Peace! Yield!” for fear that “Bush” will ambush us again if we arm the “enemy” with even tiny critiques of our reigning leaders.

    At the tip of my tongue is this poem, or Janis Joplin’s “Freedom’s just another word for ‘nothing left to lose.'” Or, more simply, “War!”

  6. Thank you for all these comments.

    A little background to this piece. It’s part of a series I am still writing, working with the gods (and goddesses) as archetypes, each having their place in the council of our Self. My belief is that we exclude the voices of each at our peril, building a shadow of that god which then bursts out in a wave when triggered.

    Ares, god of War, is a tricky one to work with in these times – rage, war, bloodlust, the urge to test ourselves against each other…

    How do we work with these? How do we integrate them? Should we, do we, can we? What place does Ares have at the council?

    This poem is not an answer to those questions – I try not to write in that way. Instead, I let him speak through the poem and hope that in his words I can have a great greater understanding of the mighty forces within.

    When Ares alone rules, there is terrible war all around. When Ares is put into the shadow, we believe we have peace… until the shadow is opened. Then the ensuing war is more terrible than anything that has come before. This is my belief.

    On another level that is closer to my rites of passage work: young men will always test themselves against each other – Ares is a hero to their warrior-natures. If he is not given voice, the men seethe in violent silence. Do I need to say more?

    It is not a call for war, for bloodshed, for fighting. It is a call to hear the voice of this god so that we do not have to let him stalk the world in battle-fury, or our homes, in the tangible and subtle violences we inflict upon one another.


  7. Oh wow wow wow, this piece hits home on so many levels I don’t even know how to talk about it. For one thing, if I could change history, I would have had my sons go on a rites of passage journey with you, how empowering to know this energy and to bring light to it. My children needed this badly in their teen years, what a gift you bring to people.

    But the energies, so wise to discuss it, so easy to speak of stillness, and to dive underneath this energy, or stuff it into shadow, but it never stays stuffed does it? No. It doesn’t. I need to meditate on this for a while. This force of Ares is strong within me and all around me.

    I cherish you, your vision, all you bring. You amaze me, and I am grateful that you are dancing across my path so I can see your colors and gifts.

    1. As a teenager, I missed that rite of passage so much, too – that’s why it’s so close to my heart now. So much to learn about the best ways to hold the space for it – we have lost the forms in our culture that have the density of the ancestors and are having to invent them for ourselves. Have you read Of Water and the Spirit, by Malidoma Some? My rites of passage work is nothing like that (otherwise I’d be in prison!) but it resonated deeply…

      Thank you for your kind words and support in this continuing voyage.

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