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The Pig War

By Matt Mosman

Friday Harbor, Washington  

''The Britishers used to come down this trail  
To their camp, and their ships was out in that bay  
A-waitin for the battle. A red-coated guard would hail  
You as you come up, and he'd yell, 'Who goes there?' " I say  

But John, he just says, "What was on this island?"  
"Jeez, John," says I, "You always miss the thrust  
Of things like this. This land is your land and my land;  
Duty, and honor, and country, and Fifty-four-forty or bust  

Or whatever it was. So what if it was a herd  
Of pigs and twenty Americans?' ' But I've lost  
Him, and he gets that look of his, that bird-
Eyed, glassy-headed one, and he says, "What was the cost  

In terms of human lives?" (That's what he said, I'm tellin'  
You the truth.) And I says, "Oh, there was a whole bunch  
Of soldiers in both camps, but I guess not much killin'  
Went on. Never was a real war. Ten or twenty, mebbee." He's out to lunch  

Again, with that look of his, so while he's shut up I sets  
the scene for him. "Just before they calls it off, the tide  
Goes out, and the reds send their ships out of the harbor, and lets  
Nobody in or out. The Yanks, they're on the rocky side  

Of the island, and in either end the men digs  
In, just like the troops at Verdun.
"Must've been a helluva nice herd of pigs,"  
Says John.  

Matt Mosman