‘Bang-Bang’ Johnny loomed large above my youth:
A cowboy hero shooting baddies down,
He made the world a better place to live.
Part comic-book, part black and white TV,
He had the most profound effect on me.
I never questioned what is right and wrong
Or asked myself about the shades of grey.
I just assumed that guys with guns and stripes
Would constitute a proper force for good.
I never wondered why; perhaps I should.
The fire bombs looked pretty as they dropped;
The air crews were the rock stars of their time.
The generals, with parties in full swing,
Would shrug off what was inconvenient.
You know, I once thought Johnny heaven-sent.
I should have understood why wars are fought
And why the big battalions will win;
Why baddies thrive and innocents are slain,
Why rabbits run and tumble one by one,
As power celebrates a job well done.