Tag Archives: anti-war poem

Rivulet


Rivulet

That tiny scarlet rivulet
descending from his bayonet
displays a horrid etiquette,
so minimal, it’s barely wet.

He lights himself a cigarette
with no remorse and no regret.
Overhead, he hears the jet
and speaks to it from his headset.

Mere days from now, a wife will set
out pieces of a wee layette
on the counter of her kitchenette
not having had the visit yet

that minutes later she will get.
Her country is much in her debt
for the end her husband met
caught in the enemy’s cruel net.

Her hopes and dreams they can’t reset
with military etiquette.
No lesser arms do to abet
tears falling in a rivulet.

The prompt today is rivulet.

Swallowing Truth

Three days ago, I started thinking of an old friend from 43 years and 8,000 miles ago, wondering if there was any way I could locate him. We had known each other in Africa, both having come to the U.S. when Ethiopia fell into its violent civil war, leaving our mutual friend (my lover and his friend since childhood) in Africa. He had worked diligently to get his friend to leave Africa and I had urged him to as well, but he had repeatedly refused to do so.

Half a country apart, we met only once after coming to the States and talked twice on the phone—the last time when he informed me of the assassination of our mutual friend about a year after I’d returned to the States. Since then, I’ve gone on to new loves and new lives, but I’ve written many times about those years in Africa, idealized my lover and imagined him to be the hero in death he’d always been to me in life.

Then, miraculously, two days ago (one day after I’d thought of trying to locate him myself and over forty years since I’d last talked to him on the phone) I received a message from my old friend asking me to friend him on Facebook and yesterday, we shared a two-hour phone call. Much of that phone call was taken up by his telling me the whole truth about my lover’s death in Africa forty-three  years ago.

“He loved you, Judy. He really loved you, and he was a different man with you. Perhaps if we had both stayed in Africa, his story would have turned out differently, but when we both left at once, he was lonely and looking for friends. They saw his charisma and charm and they drew him in. They gave him power.” This was when he told me the part of the story he had not told me so many years ago. This is when the truth of what happened after I left Africa came out. It has been a hard truth to swallow. My sister, who visited me in Africa and who knows more of that story than most, told me I should perhaps not talk to anyone else about what I had just revealed to her—to remain quiet for awhile and think this out for myself. Perhaps to write about it.

It is hard to write about such things without trivializing them, and I have tried for the past 24 hours to avoid doing so just as I’ve tried to avoid thinking about it. Neither plan seems to have worked. It was what I thought about all day, the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep, the first thing I thought about upon awakening when I saw today’s prompt, and it is what I’m thinking about now as I write the introduction to this poem. What do we do with old shattered memories that we’ve held in esteem for more than half our lives?  What do we do with the favorite photographs? How do we write about a love story turned into a horror story? I guess we do the best we can. This is my first attempt to deal with that whole truth.

Swallowing Truth

My life for now grown raw and hollow,
this bitter pill I cannot swallow.

Which path of memory to follow?

That handsome man, arms filled with flowers,
love-filled nights and fun-filled hours 
held fast in each others’ powers.

A small-town girl who lived through books,
twisting on romance’s hooks,

could not resist your charm and looks.

I could not guess the other side—
the violence your looks belied—
that truth that I must now abide.

New truths cast old beliefs asunder
as they gut and rip and plunder
those short years of joy and wonder.

Your truths are painful—sharply tined.
Miscast as hero in my mind,
you chose the other side, I find.

This is what your old friend said.
He said your power went to your head—
so many slaughtered the streets ran red.

How could the one who turned my heart
liquid from the very start
have torn so many lives apart?

These stories spun far in the past
have come together here, at last,
can’t be forgotten, the die is cast.

Beware the truths that you might seek.
Truth has a non-discerning beak
that rips asunder the frail and weak.

Be careful what you ask and do
in opening the past anew.
The truth you swallow may swallow you.

 

The prompt word today is swallow.

Big Toys


Big Toys

The act of creation is the greatest art.
You must think of the whole as you create each part.
Things put in conflict must balance as well,
or what was once heaven can turn into hell.

Every yin has its yang as dusk has its dawn.

Every awakening gives way to night’s yawn.
But why peace must be broken by violence and war
is something that tests one’s faith at its core.

When the world is unbalanced by warfare’s grim sin,

It seems perhaps nature’s starting over again
to create a world less given to baking
recipes of destruction that will be our unmaking.

These nuclear toys require such careful tending,

or it’s become clear we’ll create our own ending.
And next time perhaps our creator will find
a recipe that doesn’t include mankind. 

 

The prompt for day 19 of NaPoWriMo is to create a creation myth poem.

Be Here Now, Sept 20, 2016

If you haven’t seen the 2013 documentary “Muscle Shoals,” you should.  The studio that spawned a lot of superior music is now closed, and when we passed through today, this is what we saw instead:

Be Here Now

Where once they made music, now buy a gun.
It’s so in style, join in the fun.
Sidearms your pleasure, armed with aplomb.
When you need bolstering, purchase a bomb.
Warfare’s a game. Come join in and play.
You can wage war for real when you grow up some day.

(Click on this Muscle Shoals link to see a trailer for the excellent documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auGUm2r0cLs.) In addition, here is an NPR story about Muscle Shoals Studio: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1437161

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/discover-challenges/here-and-now/

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/silence/

Aunt Lou’s Underground Railroad Tomato

 

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Reading through a heritage seed catalogue can be a bit like reading a Reader’s Digest of adventure and human interest stories. Take, for instance, the abbreviated tale of how one tomato variety came to be saved and how it got its name. Above is an excerpt from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange catalogue that tells this tale. Below is the poem I wrote, prompted by this entry.

Aunt Lou’s Underground Railroad Tomato

So many acts of bravery lost
to history, but at what cost?
We concentrate on acts of war
in spite of what we fight them for.
Patriotism is what we say
we’re fighting for, while day by day
young men die for corporations
and win postmortem decorations
Their sacrifice of life much praised
so profit margins may be raised.

Consider, then, the other hero
whose decorations number zero.
This hero’s grave we’re loath to mark.
The soil above his grave is stark.
His collar bore no decoration,
His passing earned him no oration.
Unnamed, unlauded, he took a train
his life and freedom to regain––
pushed up from darkness like seeds to light,
by those engaged in a selfless fight
for fairness and equality.
One more man saved. One more man free.

Those who aided him also lost––
their names like ashes lightly tossed
to fertilize the soil wherein
small shafts push up where seeds have been.
Those seeds he carried his only fare,
passed to a woman who helped him there.

The fleshy meat––tangy and pink,
its juices running down the sink
a child stands over while eating it––
teeth tearing flesh, his face well lit
by sunlight streaming in the glass
where once a hand was seen to pass
a pocketful of tomato seed––
a humble gift born out of need
to somehow give a small bit back.
Those seeds he’d carried in his pack
saved now for posterity
by one man peacefully set free.

The Prompt: Spend some time looking at the names of heirloom plants, and write a poem that takes its inspiration from, or incorporates the name of, one or more of these garden rarities. http://www.napowrimo.net/day-five-3/

I think this poem is also appropriate for the WordPress daily prompt of Contrast.

In the Blood!!!
(Dedicated to Walter Palmer)

Don’t you just love football—the running and the tackling?
The sounds of hamstrings pulling and the crunch of femurs crackling?
We sit up in the bleachers eating hot dogs, drinking beer,
comfortably viewing blood sport—the kind we hold so dear.

Aren’t dogfights lovely–the growling and the whining?
Too bad they aren’t more elite, so we could watch while dining.
So amusing watching canines being dished their due.
Dying is so entertaining when it isn’t you!

Better still are bullfights, though they’re few and far between.
The bull so lithe and dangerous, the matador so lean.
The best part of the sport is that the dying is so slow.
I feel its thrill suffuse me from my head down to my toe.

We adore big game hunting in such exotic lands–
our chance to prove our manliness with our own two hands–
handing over money to those trackers in the know
who guarantee an easy kill with rifle or with bow.

Easy on the hunter, but not the animal,
for just because he’s hit the prey’s not guaranteed to fall.
We get more for our money if he’s hard to track,
and war games are more pleasant when one’s foe doesn’t shoot back!

All these minor titillations just a prelude to
the main event and the most major way of counting coup.
Once all the good old boys are finding life is just a bore,
they round up all the younger men and send them off to war.

See how the valiant struggle, see their stripes and purple hearts–
apt pay for missing arms and legs and other blown off parts.
Lucky to be home at last and lucky to be living–
the products of that blood sport that just somehow keeps on giving.


R.I.P. Cecil and the numerous humans
who have shed blood in unnecessary wars.
This post is 
in response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Game of Groans.” Think about an object, an activity, or a cultural phenomenon you really don’t like. Now write a post (tongue in cheek or not — your call!) about why it’s the best thing ever.