Humane War


Dreamt last night of humane war, 
The jets sprayed heavy sedatives 
Across the megalopolis 
Before commencing bombardment. 

I inhaled just enough of the stuff 
To slow me down, to keep me from 
The shelter, in the cellar, but 
An insufficient dose to put me under. So 
What else could I do? 

I lay there, watching,
And thought, for some reason, 
About the fourth grade 
About the word mensch — how it’s used 
To refer to a person of honor —

Which gives to the term 
Übermensch, by the way,
An altogether different feel —

And I laughed as the buildings 
began to rock 
And the glandular stench of fear 
from the cats 
Grew thick as I coughed 
and thought of Gershom Green 

How can we, he used to say,
make peace with these machines 

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Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at and on twitter @elliot_sperber.