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The Pilot’s Testament

jet bomber image
jet bomber image

The Pilot’s Testament

A war poem by David Roberts about the moral implications of service personnel obeying orders to carry out lethal action, and the media and general public’s perception of those actions. Published in 2000 in Kosovo War Poetry by Saxon Books. www.saxonbooks.co.uk

I seek no glory.
I bear no anger.
I hate no man.

I do the unspeakable
on behalf of the ungrateful.
I bomb targets chosen by others.

I have surrendered my will
to a higher authority.
I trust the cause to be right
and the methods appropriate.
There is no place for questioning.
There can be no other way.

I do my duty.
You can rely on me.
I will not let you down.

Though my task may be dangerous,
neither fear nor doubt
will prevent me.

Consider me.
Physically and mentally
my ability is exceptional.
My judgement and reflexes
are trained to perfection.
I am chosen from the elite,
the very best.
Many accord me
great respect.

I possess power beyond imagination.
Like a god I roar through the heavens,
miraculous,
immaculate,
invulnerable,
supreme,
the earth beneath me,
the whole of creation
available to me,
awaiting my quick shot
of death and destruction.

My victims are unaware of me.
I am unaware of my victims.

They go about their lives
not knowing only a few seconds remain.

We are arriving
at the appointed time and place.

At a touch I fix their fate.

Moments later,
in mid conversation,
a flash,
and they are gone.

I cannot pretend it was difficult

Their will was done,
and I, merely an instrument of death.
I did my duty,
but I accept no guilt.

I come down to earth
as a man among men,
unmarked, unrecognised,
unremarkable, unnoticed:
I easily blend.

I am not available for comment.
I am not an item of news.
The story is elsewhere.

I return to my family
as if nothing has happened.

David Roberts