A certain elderly Frenchman, eighty-three,
Father, soldier, husband, son,
Writes in a shaky hand

How it was not so
When he tortured his first Algerian.

Now he writes of his regrets:
Not for the man or the way he died.
Not for the carnivore of shame
That might have settled on his soul
But only for a dying
Not fast enough
To let him beat his secrets out.

Regrets, yes. Regrets
I have many,
But never remorse, which of course
Implies something else,
I have never allowed
In this unstained house
Though others wish
To couple my name with

I only regret that I failed in my service
To my uniform, my nation.

Which I would not let happen again.


Will Kirkland

2005, San Francisco