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Poem: Trial by Fire

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By Sherdyl Motz

His bright ochre robe glowed,
like those of his fellow monks,
standing in sharp contrast
to the dull, shell-torn pavement
he sat upon.

Smoke gloomed the horizon
and jets whistled above.
A curious crowd collected.
The monks solemnly intoned
an ancient, Buddhist chant.
The monk read a poem
of his anguish over the war,
ending with a plea for peace.

The pungent smell of gas
pierced the air as he was doused.
The chanting began again.
He calmly struck a match, flared into flame,
and became a suttee for peace—
an ash memorial sent
into the Great Void.

Sherdyl Motz is a Vietnam veteran and peace activist.

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Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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