Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MY FATHER AND I, by CHARLES BADGER CLARK JR.

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MY FATHER AND I, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: My father prayed as he drew a bead on the graycoats
Last Line: What is the matter?
Alternate Author Name(s): Clark, Badger
Subject(s): Fathers & Sons; God; Murder; Prayer; War

My father prayed as he drew a bead on the graycoats,
Back in those blazing years when the house was divided.
Bless his old heart! There never was truer or kinder;
Yet he prayed, while hoping the ball from his clumsy old musket
Might thud to the body of some hot-eyed young Southerner
And tumble him limp in the mud of the Vicksburg trenches.

That was my father, serving the Lord and his country,
Praying and shooting whole-heartedly,
Never a doubt.
And now what about
Me in my own day of battle?
Could I put my prayers behind a slim Springfield bullet?
Hardly, except to mutter: "Jesus, we part here.
My country calls for my body, and takes my soul also.
Do you see those humans herded and driven against me?
Turn away, Jesus, for I've got to kill them.
Why? Oh, well, it's the way of my fathers,
And such evils bring some vast, vague good to my country.
I don't know why, but to-day my business is killing,
And my gods must be luck and the devil till this thing is over.
Leave me now, Lord. Your eye makes me slack in my duty."
My father could mix his prayers and his shooting,
And he was a rare true man in his generation.
Now, I'm fairly decent in mine, I reckon;
Yet if I should pray like him, I'd spoil it by laughing.
What is the matter?

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