Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Poems

Remembrance Day

by Jon Fenzel

Dispossessed voices on vast crossed and starry fields,

Of Luxembourg, Brookwood, Gallipoli, Fort Vaux.

Solaced whispers mingled with tears and convulsed despair.

Final letters sealed before a slow and anxious dawn,

In Shiloh, Le Cateau, El Alamein and Iwo Jima.

Sons and daughters far from home in hushed prayer.

Shrill screams of rockets flying low to high,

Through, Guadalcanal, Inchon, Khe Sanh, Fallujah.

Terrible noise and dust, blood and tears, searing air.

Echoes of Taps voice remembrance of courage and sacrifice

At Antietam, Bastogne, Kandahar, Saratoga

Old men’s souls sit alone—silently, painfully aware.

The End and the Beginning

by Wislawa Szymborska

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone has to drag in a girder
to prop up a wall,
Someone has to glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

Read entire poem at

The Sacrifice Continues..

Blazing heat…sand blowing…heart pounding…not knowing

To have that kind of courage and the will to make a change

To live in a place that is distant, dry and strange

I can’t imagine being there to face my greatest fears

Leaving home and family, my comforts and my peers

God bless the men and women who do it every day

Our American heroes, the ones who lead the way

Posted on Caren Libby

Write a Personal Memoir for a Veteran who Died for our Freedom
found on The Story Woman

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the Gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the mornings hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.

Author Unknown

The Story Woman says, “Write a bio-vignette to Honor our sons and daughters who have served our Great Country in the name of Freedom the World over.

As a young boy sitting on Uncle’s lap
My mind was blown as he took me back
With tales of men of valor who
Fought with him in world war two.

Young men, scared men, hearts pounding, guts clenched-
Pushing forward on the front as comrades fell in blood drenched.

The highest prize was at stake,
Our freedom a tyrant wanted to take-
But courageous hearts of those who would be free-
Enough to lay down their lives if need be,

They fought through the terror, the horror of that war
They brought down the giant who would have made us his whore.

My Uncle told stories that no one should have to hear
Let alone to have lived them, he often said with a tear.
Many never made it back to their families and homeland
Some made it back missing arms, legs and hands.

I’ll never forget what brave souls did for me
They cried and they died so you and I could be free.

by Glenn Buttkus of Feel Free to Read

By the bus load
they rolled into Balboa,
their asses shot off,
carried roughly on taunt khaki stretchers.

Weary eyes
that wore a planet’s pain;
their heads shaved,
their underwear stenciled,
their blood spilling in little puddles
in quiet green hallways.

Cripples all,
they limped and wheeled,
hobbled and crept
through all of the limbs
of the gray octopus
military hospital;
within wire fences,
beneath post card palms,
gathering up gobs
of their old selves.

Metal and plastic and airplane glue
became tendons.
Canes, crutches, and chrome prosthetics
became new legs.
Empty pinned shirt sleeves
caught the ocean breeze
like sad May pole streamers,
a melancholy tune.

There were white jagged scars
running over the bodies of menl
ike angry dead veins,
hard to hide,
those inside.

The doctors, nurses, and corpsmen
raged through the sterile wards,
and their insane anger was leveled
like a loaded rifle
at the patients.

For Christ’s sake,
the patients;
that dull thick red river of broken men;
damn goldbrick sonofabitches.
Make sure that those lazy bastards
shined their shoes,
and cut all their hair,
just scrape their heads bald;
filthy germ-ridden hair.
Geld them,
stab them,
break and slice them;
deny them comfort,
harass them,
give them pain
and then give them aspirin,
only aspirin.

They must get their minds right.
Shake them from their fitful slumber,
and stand them at attention.
They are just meat,
infintesimal maimed expendable insignificant
protoplasmal service numbers,
and they are not useful
when bedridden.
Those slackers must not stay.
They must go back,
back to the front…
they must.

The men and boys of pain
absorbed the anger,
heard the words,
suffered the scapel,
took the aspirin,
shined their boots,
cut and recut their hair,
stood at rigid attention,
and they did not

Glenn Buttkus 1968

by Glenn Buttkus of Feel Free to Read

Ferns and creepers rustled softly
as a crisp breeze gently tousled
the hair of the hanging man.

in the mud,
a soldier in a foxhole
peered over the lip
and there in the moonlight
was a man on a cross

The crucified one hung there
in silent agony;
another man on a cross
seekingdown a road of sorrow
in a world of pain;
red pain,
sunset orange, yellow, and deep red.

Rusty railroad spikes in his hands,
the flesh split,
he would not let loose
of life;
though it raced ahead of him
in the darkness.

The soldier had watched
for several days,
but dared not
cross to the other,
over a hundred lethal yards
of barren ground
to the death that crouched there
with the Mongols
that also waited.

the silence was sliced open
with a burst of M-16 rifle fire,
and the thing on the cross
no longer quite a man,
was slashed to ribbons;
the lead searing through
his loin and chest.

The last flicker of life
rushed from him,
red-washing his limbs
and the greasy wood.

The man in the trench
felt himself tremble,
felt the tears on his dirty cheek,
as he heard the blood birds shriek
and the night became full
of their flapping.

Glenn Buttkus 1968


by Glenn Buttkus of Feel Free to Read

Bogie and the Duke
never made a war movie together,
and that’s a damned shame;
it would have been
a proper piece of propaganda.

is always so clean
on the silver screen.
Explosions are intense rainbows,
tramping troops start toes tapping.
Great machines of war on wheels
and tracks of steel,
groan and roll,
clang and bang,
crushing foreign soil
and foreign devils beneath them.

Actors in pancake make-up,
carrying toy guns,
recite bellicose bullshit,
wearing the masks of heroes,
and the blood
on their hands and faces
is merely strawberry jam.

But the problem is,
in those darkened theatres
battalions of boys believed
in the ersatz brutality,
and found themselves
in Viet Nam.

The Freedom Birds,
screaming jet liners,
took them there,
and for those who survived
Tour 365,
and remained somewhat
brought them home again,
with the steaming blood
of the Orient
still clinging to their swollen lips.

to work in their Dad’s
hardware store, lumber yard or machine shop,
with the stench of the ‘Nam
still strong in their nostrils.

They remembered
how proud their fathers had been
sending them off to war;
and how,
their only embrace
was stone silence.

Warriors walking
the streets
of every city in America,
hundreds of thousands of them,
with their fists clenched
and their minds still scrambled
from that Soc Trang overload.

and waiting,
year after year,
clear into their bones,
with society’s spittle
down the front of their dress uniforms.

There it is.

There were no parades,
no handshakes,
no welcome home dinners,
no easy bank loans,
no talk of valor.

The calloused fact is
pain can only be withheld
for so long.

War creates warriors,
and not all of them
are willing to lay down
their weapons.

Glenn Buttkus 1979