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We change the river’s name to make it ours.

We wall the city off and call it fate.

We husband our estate of ash,

For what we have we hold, and this

Is what is meant by history.

We have no love for one another, only uses

We can make of the defeated.

- And meanwhile you have disappeared

Like smoke across a frozen field.

What language? You had no language.

Stirring bone soup with a bone, we sip

From the cup of the skull. This is culture.

All we want to do is live forever,

To which end we make you bow down to our gods

In the midday square’s Apollonian light

Before we ship you to the furnaces

And sow you in the fields like salt.

We fear that the fields of blue air at the world’s end

Will be the only court we face.

We fear that when we reach the gate alone

There will be neither words nor deeds

To answer with. Therefore, we say, let us

Speak not of murder but of sacrifice,

And out of sacrifice make duty,

And out of duty love,

Whose name, in our language, means death.

The Citizens

Sean O'Brien

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