THEME POETRY

AUGUST 2021 = WAR

HIROSHIMA

Kassie Runyan

United States

https://www.Kassiejrunyan.com

 

mother mother

where have you gone?

we couldn’t find you

as it rained bombs

your children need a hug

but there is none

i scan for your face

and ask the nun

no one has seen you

but it still rains bombs

 

father father

where have you gone?

you went off on a ship

and now they’ve won

we haven’t heard from you

even now that it’s done

how do we reach you

without a gong

oh father, we need you

but you are long gone

 

sister sister

where have you gone?

i left to steal rice

but there was none

now i return

to the ghost of a small one

hope you found a friend

or a rock to climb on

but deep down i know

you left with the dawn

 

brother brother

where have you gone

there is no one left

for you to show brawn

they’ve left you alone

only memories of bygone

is it worth the energy now

to keep fighting on

or drift to sleep for the last time

leaving only a yawn

__________

Mel Haagman

United Kingdom

https://www.facebook.com/girlontheedge90

 

I want to understand you,
What has led you to be here?
I want to hear your story,
What you crave and what you fear.
I want to know about your choices,
What you’ve accepted and declined,
I want to know about your future,
And what you hope to find.
I want to know about your influences,
Through the life that you now live,
I want to know if you hold a grudge,
Or can you easily forgive?
I want to learn your mind-set,
The core values that you hold,
And how you keep so grounded,
With the beliefs that you’ve been told. 
I want to show you respect and trust,
To be open and to share,
And I will cast no judgement, 
In this space, I’ll show you care.

__________

ROCKET ATTACK

Douglas V. Miller

United States

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000788881080

 

Deep green canopy
daytime dark
much too thick
for walks in the park.
Far off whistle
duck and cover
butts clinching tight
here comes another.
The earth pukes death
guts slam into throat
chances of rescue
seeming mighty remote.
Shrapnel skewers area
just above ground
chopped into salad
fifty feet all around.
Five-minute bombardment
feels like an hour
raining bloody death
from some remote dark tower.
Thwap, thwap, thwap,
sound of rotors in flight
throwing hellfire down
on that remote site.
Fires light up
far in the brush
got to get out
damn big rush.
Bag up the bodies
piece together the dead
patch up the wounded
count all the heads.
Airlifted out,
another distant hill
just send Uncle Sam
this blood-written bill.

__________

BENNY’S LAST FLIGHT HOME

Judy DeCroce

United States

https://www.linkedin.com/in/judydecroce

 

Abandoned letters in an attic darkroom,

ordinary on thin blue paper,


air mails folded and refolded, stacking his name

as death slips away organized in a box.


All of us, waiting, hoping, still looking,


wondering where, between those scrawly lines,

he flies and a reverse of good-byes,

gone too.


(for Pilot Captain Benjamin Radzevich,

plane crash into the Atlantic, c.1945,

returning home from the war in Europe.)

__________

SCOOPED OUT

Marion Lougheed

Canada

https://www.facebook.com/marionstales

https://twitter.com/marionlougheed

 

coconut husk milk and fruit devoured

hungry thirsty people took what they could get and now

a husk like burnt-out cars discarded on the roadside


the inside raw blackened dull exposed

to elements both human and of earth and sea and sky


once the husk of car or fruit is cleaned of all its useful inner parts

it's cast aside unwanted undesired


what use what good what value in

a shell without a heartbeat?

__________

SLAVE TOTHE SYSTEM

Amy Turberville

United States

@theangelinthedarkness

 

“Trust the government,”

They say, “It’s never led us astray.”

Genocidal thoughts, guns & bombs betray,

“Just good business,”

They utter in dismay.

Commit our sins now,

Later for forgiveness we’ll pray.

 

Laughing like jackals

as we wake up everyday 

to break our backs.

Like a bunch of ants

summoned by the queen

to go on the attack.

“Freedom isn’t free,”

They proclaim in unison with tact.

 

—Freedom isn’t free and neither are we.

_________

FATE SEALS THE DEAL

Jessica Palmquist

United States

 

A boiling, fiery inferno

Shines red into the air.

The suffocating, grueling ruby

Lines the brick road to scare.


Begging and pleading in much haste,

The devil screams within.

My soul cries out to God above

Send Legion to the pigs.


Engulfing flames fill my heart

I scream tears of hate

Burning, turning to ash and soot,

Too late to change my fate.


She cut the cord, my life is done,

The light turning black.

I see the other side before me

No more turning back.

__________

THE PITY OF WAR

Jacquee Storozynski-Toll

United Kingdom

https://twitter.com/JAcquee51

https://www.facebook.com/jacquee.storozynski

 

Dried, gnarled fingers of a blasted tree

Reach out like a skeleton’s hand.

Imploring and supplicating to end

The dead and dying wasteland.


No blessings of gold on these boots

Only the torture of slime and mud

Agonized screams and frothing blood.


Bodies drowning, deep despair

Crushed and rotting in chlorine air. 

Hands grasping, clenching in muddy clay.

The will to live another day.


Did men, like trees, exist to end like?

A branch protrudes like dead men’s bones.

Bowed down by the weight of screams & moans.


Sun’s rays warm them, but they cannot grow

Hands on shoulders. Blindfolded, slow.  

Eyes that  now will never see, the marching to eternity.


The hopes of youth too gone to waste.

A white stone. ‘ Unknown.’ Marks this place.


Shattered bodies, distorted, bent.

They die exhausted, disfigured, spent.

‘God knows’ it says, the unknown name

Of these anonymous men who came.


They couldn’t wait. Their duty called

Now shadowy figures, slump appalled.

All they want is one tomorrow.

It will not come amidst this sorrow.


He was a man.  Now molten clay. 

No Adam rises from earth this day. 

The leaves, drop like tears. No marching band.

Just a blasted tree in a No Man’s Land.

__________

TO THE ISLE OF PELELIU

Hilary McRee Flanery

United States

In the Fall
Of forty-four
Our country battled
In a war.

A young boy went –
The proud the few
To the isle
Of Peleliu.

On his right
His buddies killed
On his left
More blood was spilled.

A young boy went –
The proud the few
To the isle
Of Peleliu.

His mind he steadied
Not to cry
Then metal shrapnel
Sliced his eye.

A young boy went –
The proud the few
To the isle
Of Peleliu.

Writhing pain
His eye red-hot
A smiling medic,
Then was shot.

A young boy went –
The proud the few
To the isle
Of Peleliu.

Under his back
Only the earth
In front to his sides
Souls of great worth.

 

A young boy went –
The proud the few
To the isle
Of Peleliu.

The boy was wounded
Left eye blind
Back to the states
Pray, paint and remind…

Just yesterday killed,
The proud the few -
May all souls rest
On…Peleliu.

__________

ARMCHAIR GENERALS

Jenean McBrearty

 

Oh, the criticisms of do-gooders!

How virtuous they are

from the comfort of their “communities.”

Close knit, wine savvy,

they speak of their ‘esthetic’

when choosing a baby crib,

ignoring the graffiti of the ghetto.


Lives lived on social media,

unable to expand to historical dimensions,

straight-jacket ‘shoulds’

safe in gated neighborhoods

while demanding rehab for the downtrodden,

without seeing the similarities.


Their children have silly names

that won’t look good on a headstone,

(funerals are solemn events, not giggle-fests),

and pontificate on morality

without ever dodging bullets

in Chicago or Iraq. 


War is just another word for dying.

in your own blood and feces, but with nobility.

A poor man’s claim to greatness?

A culture war —bullets and needles,

and dying in someone else’s pathology.

Your memorial not a medal but a riot. 

__________

WAR CORRESPONDENCE

Bob McAfee

United States

http://bobmcafee.com/

 

My son, my son, the war has begun.

Tell me where will you sleep tonight.

 

On the ground, on the ground,

in a tent on the ground

after marching all day with my crew.

 

My son, my son, you are so very young.

Tell me where will you sleep tonight.

 

On the ground, on the ground,

with a blanket I found

in a house near a farm in Shiloh.

 

My son, my son, you do us proud.

Tell me where will you sleep tonight.

 

On the ground, on the ground,

hear the cannonball’s sound

as I sleep in the Tennessee dew.

 

My son, my son, has the battle been won?

Tell me where will you sleep tonight.

 

On the ground, on the ground,

I hear the drums pound

as we ready to charge in the morrow.

 

My son, my son, keep your head down.

Tell me where will you sleep tonight.

 

On the ground, on the ground,

is where I’ve been downed,

a musket ball reaming me through.

__________

OF AMERICA ALL THESE MEDALS SING

RC James

United States

 

Why'd he do it,
jumped on the grenade,
could've hollered
told them guys to scatter?

Hide an' seek,
no, let's play red light.
Bird, look at it, small;
man, it's warm, feel it.
Can't fly, can we keep it?
We can fix it, yeah,
just put a splint on the wing,
Popsicle stick, dirty,
wash it off.
Clean the blood off,
not so rough, here, this blanket,
soft enough, ma don't know,
but it's all right.


Danny jumped on it,
nobody knew what was happening;
everybody rolled, stand up, get hit.
Damn machine gun out there,
explosion, right under Danny.
Moaning, can't breathe.
Guys all around him.
Mexican Frank, never got hurt,
only time he wasn't laughing
was when he was fighting.
Danny he was like Frank,
always smiling.

That Saturday, Sandy, he said,
we're gonna lose, be damned
if we didn't, them guys played ball
worse than old ladies and we lost.
Sandy said it, Bastards!
Danny flipped a coin at the board,
lost, and they took him out
to the base that morning.

He could've picked it up
and heaved it, why?

Old woman teacher, she threw
that damn chalk like lightning,
hit the kid on the head.
Everybody shut up,
she was a little crazy, tense,
laughed, but no noise came out.

That ranch, Fernandez woman,
small, black hair, sliver of it
hanging down, almond eyes, deep.
Picking up the mail, walking slow,
back to the house, stops, slumps,
sobbing, walks arms at sides.
Letters drop to the ground,
she stops outside the door,
leans against it, crying,
pigs grunting for food.

Copter flattening out the grass,
left big patch, noise drowned out
by guns.

Us kids 'd roll in them fields,
wrestling, farmer mad as hell,
had to cut it by hand, ha,
heavin' apples at him on the run.

Some girl named Breta,
Danny talked real soft about her,
hardly make out what he was sayin.'

Summer camp talking real low,
scratching screen window,
watching for the counselor,
flashlight, watch it.

Danny on his bunk
dreaming about his horse,
Danny in the field
dreaming about his ranch,
Danny in that hut,
Danny
dreaming.

__________

STEEL

Genevieve Ray

United Kingdom

https://www.facebook.com/GenevieveRayPoet/

 

Ever turning steel,

against muck-ridden,

rubbery churning.

The monsters of the maniacal,

eat the spaces that were so green.

 

Ever moving steel,

revolves to meet,

a barrel of fresh artillery.

A barrage of sound and smell,

cutting through communities.

 

Over heated steel,

powered by promises,

of a faulty power play.

A whole generation lost, 

from World War back to Greeks.

 

Over heated steel,

when technology overtakes,

the evolution of humanity.

Beating my breast as Shaka,

lifting my zweihander for German ancestry.


Over to ever drawing steel.

My history has the auspices,

of love before the sword.

Pacifist is not my blood,

it is the iron of unchaining,

of my ancestors from civil horror,

the belief of "we will be free".

__________

MOTHER

Rose Mary Boehm

Peru

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR9fygcz_kL4LGuYcvmC8lQ

https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/

 

I

Mother holds my hand. 

I am trying to keep pace.

Perhaps I’ll have thick brown silk stockings

one day, just like hers, and big brown shoes.

Why is her skirt so long?


II

Behind us were men in grey uniforms who forced

us uphill in the street where we lived.

Mother squashed my fingers until they hurt

in her big hands and until I wriggled and 

pulled my hand from hers, sliding sideways

and hiding in a doorway where I watched

hundreds of hurried legs trample by. 


III

I stare at the wall with hundreds of lists

of names of those who went missing, the ones

who never checked in again to be registered

by the bureaucratic processes which were never lost.

My finger flies across the papers helping my eyes

to look for the G’s.

My mother's name is not there.

__________

HIS LIMBO SOLILOQUY

Carl “Papa” Palmer

United States


Actually, I like lock-down. I already was before COVID anyway,

but now I’ve got my privacy. No family feeling forced to visit 

or hold vigil in my netherworld, he confides through the phone.


Both of us former Army soldiers placing us on common ground

made introductions easier with the usual “where were we when” 

comparisons of duty assignments all military members embrace.


Though sharing multiple telephone calls these past seven months 

since my assignment to be his companion as a hospice volunteer,

I have yet to meet him face-to-face due to pandemic restrictions.


Using his bedside number at the nursing home I can call anytime,

not worry about visiting hours, ask if he’s busy, got time to talk.


His answer’s most always the same, Just busy here being alone,

too close to death to complain. Clicking me to speaker he begins

what he calls “me-memories from a time when when was when.”


Mostly musing of being anywhere but there, lost in an actual place,

blurring “what was with what is” behind and in front of his shadow,

recalling dreams as a younger man, of a future in past perfect tense.


And times talking of present times from his no man’s land outpost, 

All day's end as they begin in purgatory, today recopying yesterday,

cared for by hosts of faceless masked angels not letting me die alone.


Forgive me only thinking of myself, I just need you to hear I’m here.

Inside I’m your age, the two of us sharing a brew at the NCO club,

years ago, and oceans away, comrades-in-arms talking of our day.


To me he’s the sergeant with permanent change of station orders 

in transition for his final mission, ending his time on active service,

in hopes his God is religious and his terminal assignment is good.

__________

THE BLUE GOD

Joan McNerney

 

The blue god of war

    is so strong

he can twist trees

with the tip of his tongue.

 

You better not defy him

              scream at him

              lie to him.

He'll explode and beat

      the hell out of you.

 

He lives on nothing

   will die for nothing

   makes us children

   shivering all night

   crying in empty winds

   turning our tears to ice.

 

The blue god of war

    is so strong

northern winds bow

to his will.

 

He doesn't dig

           your moaning

           and groaning.

You better shut up or he'll

make mincemeat out of you.

 

He laughs at everything

has respect for nothing

makes us afraid to fight

when he spits in our faces

turning our tears to ice.

 

So we watch in silence

waiting for the coming light

when he will hold us

in his burning hands

and we will be born twice

    once by fire

    once by ice.

__________

MARC ANTONY AND ME

Neal Whitman

United States

Aka Tin Whealman

Anagram poet of Glenelg, Scotland

 

Two weary veterans, 

we share battle stories

and rub rust off dented armor.

 

His war in the mist of time.

My war in our time.

Both shed too many years.

 

What’s the noise?

The star is fallen ... strike me dead

Withered is the garland ... the Earth doth melt.

 

Beneath the visiting moon

the odds are gone.

Give me some wine.

 

Like old battered turtles

we now salute no flag, 

true Earthlings. Cheers!

 

A door opened

and blew out the candle.

Where did the flame go?

__________

THE WAR YEARS

Jacalyn Shelley

United States

http://jacalynshelley.com/

 

I spent most of the war preoccupied with the study of ballet and the habit of watching on the Nightly News soldiers drag body bags out of the jungle, heave them onto helicopters. Then I’d settle into bed humming, with my transistor radio and Marvin Gaye singing What’s Going On?  The answer was to escalate, and my boyfriend registered with the Selective Service, a lottery that chose more and more men to go to war. I began to study the laws of probability and the cartography of Canada. Vivid to me was the blood stain of a Marine’s suicide on my college library floor. Vivid to me were the stories of enlisted men, who stood randomly  on the right side of a room and went to Ankara or Ramstein while their buddies were sent to Da Nang or Camranh Bay. I should have studied the cartography of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. When I was small, I studied Germany, that half a country my war-weary father helped to liberate. Now I touch the shoulder of my husband’s flight suit at the back of the closet, listen to his stories of how the supply of tetracycline for STDs would always run out, how he stitched up Viet Cong prisoners only for them to be sent back across the perimeter. His voice hesitates as he recalls recording fairy tales on cassette tapes for his children. His eyes tear like my father’s. 

__________

FLYING OVER VIETNAM 1974

L.J. Carber

Written while teaching in Cambodia in 1973-74

 

I flew, 

a modern man in a steel bird,

with all the arrogance of 

ancient Icarus, but my wings

did not melt nor I swoon.


I flew high, very, very high

Over Asian lands and homes,

And below me, very, very far

Down where the bombs fell

Like the rains of hell—

I saw the face of the moon.

__________

SAIGON PLATFORM MAN

Jimmy Pappas

United States

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8265313.Jimmy_Pappas

 

He weaved across the street
dodging in and out of motorbikes
like a broken-field runner
as he pushed his rolling platform
with a wooden block in each hand.
His legless torso rested on the dolly,
the kind of equipment acquired
from an American military base.

Whoa, papa-san, be careful.
I spread my arms out and pointed
my legs pretending to be a surfer
to show my amazement at how
he crossed a packed street with such ease.

He laughed as he always did
when he saw me,
clueless, I'm sure,
to what I was imitating.

He made his living shining shoes.
I was a regular customer now,
not that I cared about my boots,
but I always enjoyed our meetings.

I towered over him as I stood on the sidewalk
while he worked as quickly as possible.
When I looked up, I noticed the stares
of the Vietnamese people riding by.
None of them smiled back at me.

I looked down at my feet and understood.
I saw myself as they saw me
with my M-16 and baggy fatigues
and a horribly wounded veteran soldier
groveling at my feet.

When I handed the man a quarter,
he grabbed my arm
and kissed my hand.

__________

COFFEE

Trevor Harrison

United Kingdom

https://www.instagram.com/SoberPirate3218/


The dregs swill against my lips, a last taste of Brazil

They are acrimonious and grainy, like gunpowder

I want to roll the grit between my fingers-

Soak into each other in mutual, amiable osmosis

And so combined, evaporate


I fling my mug towards the primus stove

The flame spits and crackles; a fusillade

George says he will write his grandmother

Harry nods, but his eyes are back in Dublin

How I wish I could take them with me


Therein, reduced to molecules of a tired man

I could merge with the haze; I am smoke, I am

The sky scratched by shell-trails, blue, I am

The soft rains that fall after the dying is done

I am the blackbird song at daybreak


Overhead, I can see them all; erstwhile brothers

Crouched in the deep tattoos we gouged here

Some lay in lines, boots crossed, asleep or dead

Mud is etched into Gaia’s wrinkles, and our own

Precious little light in Tartarus


How I wish I could swoop down, a bright Gabriel

And kiss each man atop his head! – absent Christ

I would be His regent, offering infinite love –

To take each man against my breast, and whisper:

“You shall go home.”

__________

I AM AT WAR

Dr Barnali Sikder

India

https://www.instagram.com/vibgyor_barnu/

 

Yes, I am at war.

At war with my guilt, 

Guilt of not being able to protect my soul from the world of hatred .

Hate waves smashing my door 

Making the hardest sound 

Pushing me towards realising the cruelty of disbelief.


Here love is melted down in the extreme heat of suffocating truth.

The unfathomable clash of love and disbelief germinate an unbelievable reality , where hatred is truth and truth is hatred. 

 

Truest wishes for those who are being killed but still alive .

Their disabled soul conspire with those who dream of continuing this hatred to achieve a sublime world ,

Where soul is dead, love is raped , humanity is burned into ashes . 

Misinterpreted emotions howl

and drag these infected souls to the threshold of a new holocaust.


The constant cacophony is tearing my eardrums.

Now, its  bleeding like hell.

The red fluid is floating around my neck ...stopping me breath.

Strangulating my dreams to bloom like Frangipani,

Encapsulating my fragrance in a bottle tightening its cork. 

I tried to escape but this glass wall is so strong that ,with every hard smash on it I bounce back to the centre.

My run between the centre and the periphery makes me realise the invisibility of my central existence 

Where-

I am choked to death.

 

I am at war .

Yes, I am at war .

__________

INNOCENT WARRIORS

Prema Murugan

India

 

Children, their childhood lose liberty,

while battling their war against poverty.

Mercilessly, innocence clad in maturity.

Becomes rude and blameworthy

poor children's destiny.

 

These helpless angels toil hard, 

with deep cut wounds on body and mind .

Enforced to severe struggles, just to exist,

They hardly make their ends meet.

It's mandatory, if they need to arise

have to live through all adversities,

their prolonged pitiful state in bind. 

 

Forced to live in despair,

killed are their desires.

Despite that everyday they respire, 

grasping every breath with new aspires.

Like every little sweetheart,

they too dream, obviously bright.

Expect their sky in full spectrum paint 

radiating sparkling luminous light 

that might in some way blind their plight.

 

At times bold enough to break the barriers,

ignore the norms of ruthless social orders.

Self taught with practical lessons of life.

they withstand like a warrior.

Fearlessly standing over 

the sharp edge, some do survive,

crawl hard to escalate in their career.

Their smile sighs to lose of innocence,

dull gleam in eyes, anyone can sense.

Sometimes when left with no choice,

surrender to their ill fate, their mischance.

Though unwilling, to weird beat they dance

Stinging sorrows then pricks 

through their scathing glance.


Deep inside, the suppressed child weeps, 

skin delicate peels, at times profusely bleeds

tolerating for somebody's dark deeds.

I utterly beg, lets hear un-uttered pleads.

let's not deafen our ear, lets pay heed.

let's raise voice for these voiceless breed,

before they succumb to non healing scars.

Tongue tied they are, muted sufferers,

imprisoned they are, behind unseen bars.

__________

CODA

Marsha Warren Mittman

United States

http://www.thenextfoundation.org/

 

Beware paper soldiers 

Marching to the sound


Of their own mournful drums

Their cacophony harbingers


Of dread terrors unleashed 

Masquerading as symphonies


Whilst harmonies are destroyed

And peace instruments mangled


Until worldwide music

Can no longer be heard…

__________

LIKE LARKS

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley

United Kingdom

https://www.facebook.com/abigailelizabethottley

(For Coprporal A. Polkinghorne, D Company  2/6 Regiment in Mesopotamia

Based on a letter to Harry Ritch on 1st January 1918) 


Dear Mr Ritch, I am getting on alright.

I did not see the New Year come 

but slept in, snug and dry, and warm as I could get.

Our poor tents have been flooded, see.

A foot of mud we’ve slept in, nearly

sometimes with the water to our knees. 

Remember me, please, to all at home.

The Bible class is small these days, I guess.

But, if you could see us, and you brought 

your camera,  you could take some comic views: 

all of us, as like as not, quite lagged in mud, soaked through. 

The rain’s not like the rain back home. It comes in bucketfuls. 

Oh Mr Rich, make no mistake

out here we do see life.

 

Our Christmas here was quiet enough

as it must have been for those at home this year.

When dinner time came, they gave us skilly

which is a kind of mixed-up stew.

Cook mixed it up with something else —

though what the something was we never knew.

Still, we all look on the bright side here

and well you should have heard us Christmas Day.

We sat in our tents and sang like larks

a merry Christmas roundelay.

We Cornish lads, we sang and sang —

and we showed them the way.

__________

THE WORD

Pratibha Savani

United Kingdom

https://www.facebook.com/pratibhapoetryart/

https://www.instagram.com/pratibhapoetryart/

 

a battle of wits
a battle of fists
a battle of the mind
it's all the same kind
a battle is a battle
we all lose that's for sure
but we don't need to choose
in love and war
if we use our minds
to think it right
we can recover and reclaim
and not play that GAME
learn from history's past mistakes
and before you know it
those battles are DEAD
and you find that solace
playing something else
like tic-tac-toe
and we automatically THRIVE and grow
in the ABSENCE of that word
that is now COMPLETELY
UNHEARD of

__________

THE TRAUMA OF WAR

King Komrabai Dumbuya

Sierra Leone

 

Nerve-wrecked by the war brutalities, 

in reality, little stands before me. 

Daily life faces stanzas of regrets. 

My mouth is polka-dotted 

with an elegiac ballads of morose.

Lamenting layers of lasting cicatrices

of a war-wounded widow.

 

The fists of war forcefully, 

have pounded bitterness in my life. 

And laid them barefoot 

to the ulterior nature of irksomeness. 

Trumping up contorts of defenseless pains

While tearing hells of unforgivable dams. 

 

As the early morning sun ritual 

ghastly casted on my face,

defenseless sobs constantly knocked the aisles of death 

to take its rightful course, 

caused by the brutalities of war. 

 

While these conundrums resound in my eardrums

Pain exacerbates in me like a tsunami,

Posing a threat to my motherhood.

Jolted innocents open eyes wide,

Longing to see a sliver of hope.

 

Thinking of the grim reality, 

my heart wails.

Gliding in my life, 

are waves of trauma,

nerve-wrecked by ordeals 

castrated by the war,

questioning my very existence.

_________

APOCALYPTIC DEMANDS

Michelle M. Mead

United States

https://www.pw.org/directory/writers/michelle_m_mead

 

Not much left to say, I will retreat,

Nor time to say it in (incomplete),

With rubble strewn on barren streets,

Of the bluest earth we used to know,

So, no- maybe just a strained hello,


Or maybe a rushed kiss goodnight,

Before another flashing light,

Against our flesh as red as sin,

Climbs the walls of lives within,

As the final days of life begin,


A crooked fork stuck in my cheek,

Treacherous times that are so bleak,

A crooked house on crooked legs,

And every person is one who begs,

While crawling down amongst the dregs,


Apocalyptic mushroom cloud tattoos,

And baby bottles filled with booze,

Nothing left to pick or choose,

All broken glass and dried up land,

Alas, this is what ignorance demands,

This piece of flesh, these empty hands.

__________

BLUE RIDGES

Marianne Mersereau

United States

https://www.facebook.com/WildHoneyCreations

https://www.mariannemersereau.com/

 

The hills my father roamed in his life

were similar – rugged slopes rising 

above lush valleys, and I wish to see them

before their scars – Wallens Ridge before

Daniel Boone, General Lee and Massey Coal,

Okinawa’s Kakazu before kamikazes,

banzais and suicide cliff dives. 


I picture him as a child climbing 

in Tennessee gathering holly for Christmas,

hunting squirrel and deer with his shotgun,

and years later crossing Conical Hill 

carrying a fallen comrade, and a different 

kind of weapon. I study the witnesses 

on these ridges: palm, cherry, dogwood, cedar. 

__________

STILL

D. R. James

United States

https://www.amazon.com/D.-R.-James/e/B00IW6KT3W

 

It all recurs for the maimed, how they remain,

or don’t, atop the plots of the buried. Those

who could do something table the question.

They relax in the rocker of their certainty,

a war, any war, an abstraction that walls off

the bursting specifics. A twenty-something friend

found he’d deployed to sort body parts. Arrayed,

they’d survive the fever sweeping a land we

could never know. Welcomed by the white-blue

atrium of a foreign sky, he’d prowl his perimeter

until his duty tapped him. Then the oven-sun

would relight his nightmare, the categories

of bone and flesh his production line. What

achievement could signal his success? What

dream in the meantime could relieve raw nerve?

The perfect tour would end when he was still

in one piece, a nation’s need ignoring the gore

behind the games, the horror nestling into

the still-living because still in one piece.

__________

RUMBLES OF WRATH!

Kathy Jo Bryant

United States


We cower inside

At the rumbles of wrath


Shrinking in fear's

Dread control


Why must we travel

This rambling path


And for trouble

Always be on patrol?


Well, it's a sure thing

That hate rules this world


Just look right and left

And you'll see 


Upon every foe

Dark weapons are hurled


The human heart 

Behaves evilly


A continual fight

'Twixt opposing sides


Has always held 

Full sway


But there is hope

God will provide


An end to this mess

Some glad day!

__________

FARM BOY 

Mike Ball

United States

https://twitter.com/whirred https://www.facebook.com/harrumph

 

 

Glenn reveled in the Burdizzo ball clamp 

 that emasculates bulls by crushing  

vessels and sperm tubes with no cutting.  

Encircling each ball in turn, squeezing  

hard and quick. Poof, make a steer.  

Bloodless transformation seems kind. 

 

Among arcane pleasures of black kine  

is hoisting hips onto the broad, wide body 

of an Angus steer, bred for short legs and 

table-like back. One could snooze there. 

 

Weekends upcountry, we tended to Angus 

and kept company with sincere lasses.  

We played minor celebrity, college boys 

not set sure for decades in cotton mills. 

 

His future might bring country peace, 

running the family ranch. But first 

came duty to country during war. 

Of course, he quit college to do that. 

 

He quickly went extreme in Laos, 

where our honorable government  

swore that we never had troops. 

He had shot only deer, turkey, squirrel. 

 

Two years later when we met again, 

He had to dig deep into our friendship 

bag to speak…and only then after 

three woman-shaped Michelobs. 

As an NCO, corporal, on patrol, he 

lived through a human wave assault. 

Likely thousands, of Viet Cong 

washed across the field at them. 

 

They spewed machine gun and rifle 

rounds down one wave, then the next. 

Fifty some men in sweaty green 

fatigues killed some, then more. 

 

They got killed too. Many of his guys 

were hit, including all ranking officers. 

Killing more, then taking over his squad, 

he ended up a couple ranks higher 

 

Some attackers were only feet away.  

He could have touched them, Instead,  

he shot more…until the wave just stopped. 

The Cong retrieved who knows how many. 

 

It was over …sort of. The assault replays 

in screams, smells and flashing sights. 

Those shouting demons keep demanding 

death for the platoon or even themselves. 

 

No more laughs or grins. Only fitful 

naps day or night and spoiled sleep. 

Glen returned from the war…sort of.  

He has no wounds that show. 

__________

FREEDOM

Emecheta Christian

Nigeria

https://www.instagram.com/emechetachristian/

https://www.facebook.com/emechetac

 

Let’s fight abuse

Let’s fight misuse

We are not here to lose

We were not born fools


Let’s fight corruption

Let’s fight oppression

We must stay united like a legion

We must sanitize our nation


Let’s fight greed

Let’s fight misdeed

In wisdom, we must feed

In wise words, we must heed


Let’s fight terrorism

Let’s fight nepotism

In unity, we can eradicate antagonism

In love, we can outgrow tribalism.

__________

WARNING FROM THE WHEELCHAIR

Mark Hudson

United States

 

Back in eighth grade, we had school ditch-day,

and we ditched school to go to the Cubs game.

I was with a young kid my age when we strayed,

and came across a war veteran who’d been maimed.

Confined to a wheelchair for life from a fray,

he warned us not to join the military, or so he claimed.

I never intended to join the military, anyway,

but I remember that war veteran today, unnamed.

The kid I went to that baseball game with that day,

went on to a successful career, he was unashamed.

He was overseas when the tsunami swept him away,

a vacation in paradise was the thing to be blamed.

I thank you, Lord, that for today I’m still alive,

I hope to see those people in heaven who did not survive.

__________

​​​

TALES FROM THE DAMPSIDE

Ken Gosse

United States

https://www.facebook.com/ken.gosse/

 

There once was a dark, stormy knight

who needed to pause in each fight.

Superb valor and wit,

stamina infinite,

but large prostate and bladder finite.

__________

THE NAVY WIFE

Jane Fitzgerald

United States

https://www.facebook.com/JanesPoetry/

https://www.amazon.com/Jane-H.-Fitzgerald/e/B01MSW2FLO

 

She sat stone still
Staring at a blank screen
Its dullness reflected 
How she felt inside
Too tired to move
She had been alone for months
His return a phantom ship
On the lost horizon 
The only sounds in the still darkness
Were the hum of the refrigerator 
And the occasional jet overhead
The children were finally asleep
The quiet washed over her
Like a precious gift
She could hardly bear to think 
Of the baby bottles and dirty wash
Perpetually waiting for her 
Demanding attention before 
She could fall exhausted into
The bed meant for two
Only to be woken up 
By screams from a hungry baby
She knew there would be isolation 
When she eagerly pledged to him
It seemed so remote then
Reality struck with his first deployment 
She had fought against it
Now she was resigned 
Willing herself to conquer each day
Shouldering all responsibilities 
Panicking with every phone call
Imagining the worst
A fearful draining existence
Each return was like a rebirth
Each departure a death
She suffered, but did not drown
Unknown physical and emotional strength 
Emerged along with foreign courage 
Transforming her into
The steadfast Navy wife

__________

WHAT LIES BENEATH

Lynn White

United Kingdom

https://www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/

https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com/

I dug up so many things 

to create my garden

not only rocks

and pieces of slate

but tools from those who

had worked in this difficult land.

I built walls from the rocks

and edged my new pond in slate.

The tools became decorations

to tell the story of the land.

Then I found the tractor,

or so I thought,

a toy 

that some child had played with

dreaming of flat land

with good soil.

Then I looked more closely

and saw it was a soldier 

in the driving seat.

Not a tractor

then

but

some sort 

of killing machine

I buried it back where it came from.

It seemed the best thing to do with it.

__________

I’LL BE SEEING YOU

Antoni Ooto

United States

https://www.linkedin.com/in/antoniooto

http://www.ooto.org/blog/

 

In the summer after the war

when we sit and plan

as others had


staring outward

at the lines of history before us

newly confronted with peace


quietly, we sing, 

old songs of what was


forever looking into unknown places

over there…over here


this time,

hoping to build,

better than before

__________

THE WAR BETWEEN THE HANDS

William Wren

Canada

https://billwren.com/

 

There was a body.
It had two hands,
a right and a left.
They went to war.

The hands became fists.
They started to fight.
In the fighting of fists
the body was bruised.

The body was winded
from all of the strikes.
The body was broken
and started to fall.

It dropped to its knees.
It fell to the ground.
It wasn’t enough.
Neither hand won.

Hands that were fists,
a left and a right,
knuckled with anger.
Each grabbed a knife.

They started to slash.
The body was cut.
It started to bleed.
It wasn’t enough.

The hands that were fists
continued to cut.
Both of them stabbed
straight to the heart.

The body was dying.
The body soon died.
The fists became hands.
The hands became dust.

__________

LAST WAR

Kaebetswe Qobolo, 14

Lesego Mahlakwana, 15

https://www.instagram.com/betswextee_/

 

You are the last war to end all wars

You are the biggest I've seen

You are the longest ever been

 

Turning left there are dead bodies on the battle grounds

Turning right all i hear is gun sounds

You are the last of them all

And shall all your enemies fall

 

Hope you conquer

And win this war

So tomorrow you shall rise

You're the last war to end all wars.

 

But the question still stands "what really happens in wars?"

Is it for peace?

Does it stay at ease

Or is it just for disturbing the peace?

We all ask... 

We turn our backs on friends once we get back stabbed 

Were all represented even standing from a distant, 

In a flash we run trying to fight our enemies 

We all rise and fall, 

and we act like we're in walls.

__________

POPPIES

Agnieszka Filipek

Ireland

https://www.facebook.com/polmnieapoltobie

 

the sky cracks

rivers flow with blood


soldiers flood the earth

singing the lullaby


their weapons shining

like jewelry


and under their feet

anonymous bones

__________

I RISE UP

Sarfraz Ahmed

United Kingdom

https://twitter.com/Sarfraz76194745

https://www.instagram.com/sarfrazahmedpoet/

 

From the dust of history’s gaze,

From the hearts of encapsulated slaves,

Bound by shackles,

Tied to metal and stone,

That cut through skin and bone,

 

I rise up holding onto a wing and a prayer,

The tail ends of hope,

A sparkle that burns through the darkness,

Penetrates through the torched cries,

Of the caged bird,

 

From the gravel pits of history,

From the pain I endured time after time,

From the strength,

I found in the hearts,

In the comfort of strangers,

Those that have come and gone,

 

From the hope of another rising sun,

From the kiss of the phoenix,

And the belly of the dragon,

Dreams that used to exist,

 

I rise up,

I stand tall,

In the midst of history’s gaze,

I fly like a shadow,

Upon all those that did me wrong,

I rise up like fire,

I burn hard and I burn strong.

__________

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