"The Apotheosis of War" 1871, Vasily Vereshchagin
“The Apotheosis of War”

God is on our side …
without a shadow of a doubt
they said and
no nay-saying her parents
her husband, her people
the politicos and demigods
their war-mongering

her eyes surveilled the warriors as
they cut across fields of innocence,
they stomped and postured

no Light shining from dark disorder
no Joy in parting a sea of blood

in her heart: doubts
large, lively, captive
packed tight into small muscle,
specters beating at the walls




they know not what they do

God forgives them all, she was taught
But who will forgive God

– Jamie Dedes

Vasili Vereshchagin
Vasili Vereshchagin

The Apotheosis of War painting (1871) is by Vasily Vereshchagin (1842-1904), a Russian artist, who dedicated this painting and one other – Left Behind  (a wounded Russian soldier abandoned by his comrades) – “to all conquerors, past, present and to come…”


There were several observations that contributed to this poem but, most of all, it was reading some comments on Facebook, especially this one: “If this is God’s will then God has a lot of explaining to do.”  War, destruction, murder: God’s will, free will, or the apotheosis of nihilism (insanity)? Write something that – by virtue of its brevity – is pungent: a poem or perhaps a parable.

Please feel free to put a link to your poem or parable below in comments so that I and others may come read your work.

© 2016, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; the portrait of Vasili Vereshchagin and the photograph of “The Apotheosis of War” are both in public domain.


  1. The mysterious ways of the divine are always difficulties in religion. Your poem captures that. Agh. Personally, I think one can really only pray for resolve and help and strength and maybe relief–I don’t know about specific results! Anyway, wonderful questioning poem. k.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Jamie–I don’t know how your Wednesday prompts work. I think my current poem would fit (as it speaks of mourning) but obviously did not write for prompt. (Perhaps these things come into collective minds.) k.

          Liked by 1 person

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