Draw strength, draw strength from those who died
Make peace with those who lived
For in our memories all survive
Their deeds, their times outlive
For peace they went, for peace they fought
Though some would not return
Yet with courageous deeds they taught
That freedom must be earned
Now we in peace and freedom dwell
This heaven they bequeath
To those who challenged death and fell
We dedicate our wreath
And though with passing years it seems
Their legacy might fail
Yet in our blood, and in our dreams
Their souls are marching still
The Library of Alexandria in Our Seabags
…in the army…(e)very few days one seemed to meet a scholar, an original, a poet, a cheery buffoon, a raconteur, or at the very least a man of good will.”
-C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy
The barracks was our university
So too the march, the camp, the line for chow
McKuen shared our ham and lima beans
John Steinbeck helped with cleaning guns and gear
(You’re not supposed to call your rifle a gun)
The Muses Nine were usually given a miss
But not Max Brand or Herman Wouk
Cowboys and hobbits and hippie poets
And a suspicious Russian or two
Tattered paperbacks jammed into our pockets:
All the world was our university
Try to keep sight of the important things
But the line's been blurred between what is and isn't good
Try to shift my gaze away from pointless things
But I've always had eyes for you
She lived in a suburb of the city
with a hard-working husband keeping kid's bellies filled
oblivious to the horrors yet to be lived
"The war to end all wars" and millions killed
A thread-bare working class, but they still lived their lives
poorly paid work though, and struggling to get by
in 1914, her future ripped from her hands
she couldn't even vote for her husband to die
Tommy and his pals signed up for glory
marching and grinning but gripped by fear
she waved them off with her heart so heavy
the posters warned the Germans would be here
Tommy returned from the front a different man
gone was his smile, his whistle in the morn
a haunted look, he couldn't say what he'd seen
she felt sad and lonely, upset and forlorn
Supporting her husband throughout his trauma
much work to do and mouths to feed
2 years now into this madness
more lambs to the slaughter was the nation's need
They recalled Tommy for a battle at the Somme
his mental wounds hidden, he stood at the door
she kissed him, then he left to meet his maker
she sighed, then cried and collapsed to the floor
On a warm July morning he was sent to his death
cut down in his prime in no man's land
a pointless, tragic waste of his life
most now saw this "Great War" wasn't so grand
She opened the letter bearing the news
they regretted her loss and said they were pained
passed to her loved ones and back again
barely readable now it was so tear-stained
2 months passed and she heard some news
they were showing a film at her local cinema
the carnage at the Somme could now be viewed
her family and friends went to see it with her
She saw a body being carried in the trenches
the face of the dead man was screened
that face was Tommy's, she leapt to her feet
"That's him! That's my Tommy!", she screamed
She was led back home to her children
her pain and anguish she could now release
seeing Tommy one last time gave her closure
his face had looked content and finally at peace
It was a long long way
through dark days
and dank nights
taking dark sides
against the other
against the distant
against the odds.
Trusting the relay of work horses
to drag our destruction
to haul our backsides
to dredge our pain
to our hollow -
to some kind of victory
that I'll never speak of again
outside of my nightmare prayers
for some kind of forgiveness.
Blessed are you, who are conscripted , when you are dragged into wars not of your choosing -
For you will be remembered.
Can I truly love, that which I have never loved?
Be, that which I cannot, truly, be?
Is it lack of forgiveness, or lack of remorse?
A lack of compassion, lack of empathy?
Do I truly not care?
Any glance I give to a memory of her
Only resides in the cynical.
The emotional phisique, deplorable to me.
The compassion, pathetic.
The frailty, a weakness.
The love, indifferent.
Part of taking upon the name of Christ,
Is loving without a price.
Caring without recompense.
Forgiveness without the thirst for vengence.
So many were touched by her loving hand.
Many were changed forever.
But, I was one of the few that weren't;
I fell to the brunt of her brutality.
Her lagging trust.
Because I, myself, was capable without help.
I didn't fit her standard of being less.
I didn't need built up, I wasn't repressed.
I was myself, and needed not another,
I didn't help, was I ever a brother?
I don't necessarily show that don't I care
With words, compliments taste weird in my mouth.
Yet, all the same, I do much for my friends.
I'm there, an ulterior influence.
But that is no matter, I never said kind.
Never did display a physique: benign.
I'm troubled she never trusted my word.
I spoke truth, when she 'ccused me of wrong.
Never, once, had I stepped out of line.
I was myself, I held to the line.
But, still, she never thought well of me.
Every hug that I gave, felt hollow— empty.
Have I done any wrong? Am I the problem?
Maybe I've over-thought all of this!
Yet, why can I not find a time where she wasn't?
Where I wasn't treated cynically?
No memory, no emotion, no influence?
"This page was made in rememberence of Ms._
To celebrate her many years of teaching."
Memories, pictures, stories, events.
Not one of them mine, no joyful remembrance.
Her ugly salmon sneakers
hang by ratty shoelaces when she takes them from the vendor.
I tell her to toss them lest she get a disease
from her gross salmon sneakers.
Her garish salmon sneakers
pitter-patter gladly, mocking me and staying forever.
She says she won’t ever buy another pair since
she’s got her salmon sneakers.
Her silly salmon sneakers
stay on even through our reception, our vows, and our wedding.
Though I do finally get them off that same night,
her wondrous salmon sneakers.
Her busted salmon sneakers
trip her up before she steps in front of a speeding driver.
As I scold her, I don’t even think I’m grateful
to her old salmon sneakers.
Her galling salmon sneakers
always stay two steps ahead of me and everyone she knows.
If only they outpaced the ones she didn’t know,
her goddamn salmon sneakers.
Her stupid salmon sneakers
never grace her feet again, and I know she’d have hated that.
I don’t care because that’s all I have left of her,
her bloody salmon sneakers.
Her dreary salmon sneakers
seem so lifeless without her because she was what gave them life.
And I wish with all I have left that she was there,
not her hated salmon sneakers.
When I don't have anything
I make things to exist beyond
All the beautiful things
That make you weep
I keep them close
What we loved over
I call it winterberry
What I keep for ever
What you cannot take away
Not from me
No not never
When I don't have any reason
not to wait for you
I think of Winterberry
and it's always there