Momus – Three Wars

From the album ‘The Poison Boyfriend‘ (1987).


The first war, the war of 14 to 18
Begins with an uprising of adrenalin
The first war begins with the testicles descending
And desire assassinating the child that you once were
The war begins at school when you rebel against the maths teacher
Who touched you up behind his desk
And ends when you’ve failed your final maths exam
And had your first success with sex
The war brings new discoveries
How to make dog fights with your thyroid and pituitary glands
How the Zeppelin can fly at your command

And a generation lays down its life
When after all they’ve done for you
The good parents die
Resurrected as your enemy
And when the girl you’ve started wanting
More than all you’ve ever wanted says "no"
She is, she is your enemy too
But you survive

And from the trenches of your newly found opinions
Freshly dug, quickly abandoned
The white flag waves for an armistice on Christmas Day
Then your voice rings round the family front room
Like a drill sergeant’s in front of his platoon
Broken, broken too soon
But you survive

The second war, the war of 39 to 45
Begins when you identify your own inner Third Reich
The second war begins with a sudden hypochondria
A visit to a doctor who waves a piece of paper and says
"This time it’s just a false alarm"
The war begins at work with some intoxicating news
When the letter comes that offers you promotion
And ends when you decide to let them offer it
To younger men with more ambition
The war brings new perspectives when you suddenly see through
The politics of power which possessed you
Through all your waking hours

And a generation lays down its life
When the whizz kids of the industry
Slow down, slow down and die
Resurrected as your enemy
And when the woman who accepted you
When all the rest rejected you goes
She is, she is your enemy too
But you survive

And at weekends you get custody of an only child
Already adolescent and unreconciled
Who laughs at you, you and your new-found piety
And his laugh rings round your faint desire for god
Like an order from an inner firing squad
Breaking, breaking the ties of blood
But you survive

But the third war is the war that never comes
The war that never comes to everyone
Begins the second after next by accident
Ends everything except itself
The war brings nothing, the unimaginable
That the old imagine all the time
Imagine imagination dying

And a generation lays down its life
When it refuses the creation
Of new ways, new ways to live
And when the great invention falls apart
Ripping through the atoms of your heart
The third war, the third war will start
Which no-one survives

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