The winner is the one that lost the least

When they return from war, our winning side.
You see deep into their eyes the flame that die
They kiss their girls but still they cannot hide
that also winners lose and dearly pay
a cut-throat cost and now they’re damaged goods.
I see their lamps at night are always lit,
they cannot sleep, cause in the neighborhood
a darkness linger from the throats they slit.
A hero cannot face his dreams at night;
the winner is the one that lost the least.
The air is thick of screams – around his neck
a millstone tied. His hell will never cease.
He mixes bourbon with prescription pills
and when his breathing ceased, he paid his bills

Shell shocked soldier

Shell shocked soldier

Today at dVerse poetics Mary wants us to ponder about winners and losers. What are their differences? What is typical of winners. But a year like this I cannot avoid talking about winners and losers in war (if there is such a thing). Many young men are becoming killers (often for a good cause) but a beast within has wakened and the prices afterwards are terrible.

December 2, 2014

37 responses to “The winner is the one that lost the least

  1. Yes, I think you are right, Bjorn. The winner in war is the one who has lost the least. And so often the winning comes at a high price. And indeed there are some who return to live in a hell that ‘will never cease.’ The picture really illustrates your poem….strongly!

  2. so felt the struggle in this… perhaps, only a few are designed to carry the weight of war… unfortunately, there are too many wars to fill the need… I think of David (Old Testament) a man of war not allowed to build the Holy Temple… such a weight to carry… my dad was at Pearl Harbor which I did not know until after his death… never did he talk about what he saw that day, but often the house would be woken in the middle of the night from his sleepless moans

  3. when it comes to war, i think the winners are the greatest losers because they have to live in the after with all the ghosts…there are no winners in war….we all lose….tight piece

  4. That line “A hero cannot face his dreams at night”…now that’s one heck of a powerful line! We all too often forget that the “conquering heroes” did not come home unscathed, but carry psychological wounds that may never heal.

  5. Classic form & conundrum, brother. Switzerland & Sweden make it work, but you are the size of California, or smaller. Too often we let our guard down (Pearl Harbor/9-11) & we pay a heavy price for it. From the drug lord wars, to the Somali pirates, to the roving gangs of militant thugs in Africa, to the relentless arrogance & cruelty of radical Islamic zealots–the threats are never ending, & politicians, bankers, arms dealers salivate when the sabers are rattled & fear grips us all.

  6. Having said that, I certainly get your meaning in your terrific poem. In a near perfect world, devoid of nationalism, greed, & the down side of human nature, perhaps we could be winners in brotherhood, in fellowship; a beautiful dream; like the one we had when we elected Obama, before the Republicans got at him like a pack of rabid hyenas.

  7. This is a very powerful write, Björn. The images are striking. All the more so as we know that what you evoke is real. At least now I think this is more common knowledge, which sadly does not mean that the issue is addressed as it should by the authorities concerned. But I also think of the soldiers of WW1 and WW2 whose psychological injuries remained hidden.

  8. A difficult situation, war–terrible for all sides; terrible for those who are just on the sidelines. Obviously, there are also all these issues of the haves- and have-nots, and resentment and prejudice and greed and anger–a difficult mix in being human.

  9. I specially like this part:

    The air is thick of screams – around his neck
    a millstone tied. His hell will never cease.

    The consequences of war comes after the war & often there is not enough pills & drinks to calm the nerves for a goodnight rest ~ Have a good week Bjorn ~

  10. So often we rush into things without thinking of the consequences, even those of apparent victory! A very sad, very brutally honest and gripping poem.

  11. I can’t imagine the reality of a battlefield you describe…I see it in the movies, read it in the news. But having lost some friends in the Vietnam war and of course fathers here in WW2, it hits close to home…heartfelt poem, Bjorn. The winning side in war gets no prize.

  12. The nightmare and disturbing things that men at war have to go through. wow!!! this reminds me of Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory” & “Full Metal Jacket”. If you haven’t seen those movies please do watch them.

    This poem my friend is genius and has a lot of deep emotional soul.

    Beautiful my friend. 🙂

  13. WWI was the worst – perhaps the last war to be fought the old fashioned way. With wars becoming more like video games, I wonder if the soldiers are as traumatized as their old counterparts.

  14. Working with the military for over two decades i knew a lot of heroes that still after decades did live with that millstone around their neck..

    And some of them fought in the wars.. where the military industrial complex wasn’t the only one responsible for deaths….

    And even sadder still.. is when one knows the truth of today’s push button wars.. where the distance between humanity and death..

    no longer even exists.. but in the eyes of the dead…..

  15. Bjorn, such an amazing and powerful statement – in my country, I have seen the aftermath of the only war in my lifetime – and I can imagine no less…..

  16. A hero cannot face his dreams at night;
    the winner is the one that lost the least.

    How very true! Even if they win it would just be marginal! There are no real winners. Great thoughts Brorn!


  17. yes the price soldiers pay goes unnoticed…also it’s inner struggle and it’s difficult to share it or speak about it..wonderful lines

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