Poem: Careful Now — Reflecting on the Mutations of War

By: Vincent Di Stefano

Author’s Note

The nature of war has completely changed over the course of the past century. From being the domain of a trained warrior caste who lived and died face to face, it has, especially in more recent times, become an exercise in technical sophistication where decisions made and actions taken at a vast distance from the field of battle determine the fate not only of combatants, but of fathers, mothers and children who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This original piece offers a brief reflection on the senselessness, the tragedy and the dehumanisation wrought of war at a time when the great powers continue to draw down vast portions of national economies to maintain and further develop the technologies of death.

The music that accompanies this piece was composed and performed by Nico Di Stefano. You can download a CD quality MP3 file here.

About the Poem

This short poem is offered in memory of Rosalie Bertell, who died earlier this month. As an epidemiologist and biometrician, the remarkable Sr. Rosalie gave over decades of her life to investigating the steadily increasing incidence of cancers – particularly childhood leukemias – since the 1950s. In her two books, No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth and Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War, she chronicled not only the damage already wrought, but the relentless growth of technologies of death. More recently, Rosalie Bertell was featured by Australian film-maker David Bradbury in his “Wake Up”, a documentary which examines the expansion of uranium mining in Australia. 

Poetry at Brave New World

Poetry at Brave New World

The Poem

This is the wall of stone faces

This is the plain of lost skulls

How much blood must fallow

Before we’ve had enough?

This is the wall of stone faces

This is the plain of dry skulls

How much slaughter does it take

Before we’ve had enough?

No spear, no arrow,

No shield or sabre close at hand

Blast of cannon barely muted

Careful now

Who can remember the two small suns

that flashed and crashed and flayed a people

And who can recall those white hot suns

that trashed the cities ashed the people

In an empty triumph of stolen glory

Two wretched clouds of infernal fury

That burned all hope and poisoned the story

Careful now

We’ve grown too accustomed to spin and slaughter

To soft commands of deadly purpose

To haughty laughter in high places

Careful now

So let us look further let us pause longer

Let us recall those far-off places

As night draws nigh

Shape and shadow of glistening mountain,

Sibilant stream and falling fountain

Whispering water chilling wind

Gold streaked clouds at the end of the day

Remember these

As night draws nigh

About the author: Vincent Di Stefano is a retired practitioner of Osteopathy and Natural Medicine, former lecturer in Health Sciences at Victoria University, and author of Holism and Complementary Medicine: Origins and Principles. He maintains an ongoing commitment to exploring the will to healing at personal, social, spiritual and environmental levels through his blog Integral Reflections and his website The Healing Project.