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A Challenge - Let's See What We Can Create in Honor of Veteran's Day

General Poetry - post, comment, review, critique
indar
Posts: 1113
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:00 pm

Re: A Challenge - Let's See What We Can Create in Honor of Veteran's Day

Post by indar » Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:43 am

Very old one:


Nam, 1961,
US Special Forces,
MACV SOG
an operation that became a war.

He knew, as did his brothers,
they were nothing more
than cannon fodder,
that's what they called themselves
and laughed.

He wears a cap yet
patched with skull, beret and knife,
seldom speaks of anything but honor.

When he tells it, the truth,
young men hunkered down
stink of rotten feces in the paddies,
suck of mud,
shorn heads thrown back 
laughing as their forebears laughed 
in Southern cotton, sugar cane.

What else was there? Protest thrown back
vicious, in this war
it could come from either side. 
The truth was told in veiled language,
the small hole in the back.
the big hole in the front,
and then they laughed.
 

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Gyppo
Posts: 279
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:28 pm
Location: UK

Re: A Challenge - Let's See What We Can Create in Honor of Veteran's Day

Post by Gyppo » Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:10 am

Deb wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:41 am
That's a fascinating story, Gyppo. Your mum's or your dad's side? I would read an entire book on these lives.

Isn't it both a blessing and a curse to be able to flesh out real characters who
are oftentimes better than any characters one can conjure?
1)  Mum's side.  I don't know much about Dad's family.  I'm sure I would have found out more eventually, but his memory was scrambled in a motorbike crash when I was fourteen.   One of my cousins has built up a bit of a family tree, but it's just names, dates, and locations.  Interesting, but relatively uninformative about the people behind the bare facts.

2)  When I'm writing fiction I can usually work out (in retrospect) where some of a character's attributes or habits came from.  (But they are, of course, as the disclaimer says, entirely fictitious ;-)

Gyppo
I've been writing ever since I realised I could.  Storytelling since I started talking.  Poetry however comes and goes  ;-)

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Gyppo
Posts: 279
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Location: UK

Re: A Challenge - Let's See What We Can Create in Honor of Veteran's Day

Post by Gyppo » Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:01 am

Having had time to process the mental images from yesterdays Remembrance Service...

Keeping it under their hats

This year the sunlight picked out the hats,
mostly black berets, mostly worn straight,
but a few cocked at an angle
in a proud and private code.

Two dark green berets,
one sandy, one bright blue.

Two Gurkha hats, dead level.
One above a hard unsmiling face.
The other incongruous,
framing a  'grandfatherly' smile
with twinkling eyes behind his glasses.

Colourful headgear for the Sikhs
and other Indians.  But warrior's eyes.
They don't look like this when working,
smiling at customers in their restaurant.

And a man in a black belted raincoat,
with a trilby hat, looking, God forbid,
like someone from the Gestapo.

Plus an elderly Indian lady,
in a long dark green dress
with a poppy print.
Standing with the men.

Gyppo

 
I've been writing ever since I realised I could.  Storytelling since I started talking.  Poetry however comes and goes  ;-)

Dylan di Vilde
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Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:13 pm

Re: A Challenge - Let's See What We Can Create in Honor of Veteran's Day

Post by Dylan di Vilde » Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:35 am

I don't have anything new so this is an old one.


Buried in France 
One of a simpler, less cynical race
that lad with the open ingenuous face
set long ago in a bronze oval frame
and only hushed reverence when speaking his name.
On grandmother’s sideboard for seventy years
the tall grinning youth with the sticky out ears.
He left for the front at the very first chance
but never came home and was buried in France. 

She spoke only once of the death of her brother -
a boy with a telegram, the sight of her mother
with trembling hands as she answered the door
and the cry as she sank to the cold tiled floor.

So the picture that captured this good-natured soul
assumed a now sombre, memorial role.
And over the decades the loss never waned,
polished and treasured the photo remained
solemnly watching the decades elapse
surrounded by colourful family snaps 
‘til grandma passed on half an epoch away
on a peaceable 21st century day.

In a house full of memories ruthlessly cleared,
he was saved before cynical cousins appeared.
So I gave a new home to that innocent face
and stood him once more in a prominent place.
For I couldn’t just take him and store him away,
Unknown - come the next house-clearing day. 

Though he wasn’t my brother, wasn’t my loss 
and thousands just like him lie under a cross,
there’s a look in those eyes that I cannot define
and somehow he’s always looked back into mine.
So close and so far is that lad of nineteen
whose eyes saw a lot more than I’ve ever seen. 

  
Sweepings from the Factory Floor – a new volume of poems available now at https://www.feedaread.com/profiles/10661/

indar
Posts: 1113
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:00 pm

Re: A Challenge - Let's See What We Can Create in Honor of Veteran's Day

Post by indar » Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:27 pm

from a collection I'm still working on titled "Stories from the Silence"



My father was a gunner on an LST
in the South Pacific.
I don't know which islands he patrolled--
below the equator.
He had photos of initiation rites
held on deck as they crossed zero latitude:

An old hand presided dressed as Neptune,
wore coarse white hair made from a mop head,
blanket robes, held a trident, all the men were laughing,
sailed someplace where women
wore grass skirts, naked from the waist up.

Posed in line, native people stared back solemnly from cracked
and folded black and white.
My father said men and women both had purple teeth
because they chewed betel nut.

One day a shipmate got his guts shot out:
tried to hold them in, it felt like he had to take a shit--
held his intestines in his hands, my father said,
and told the guys he had to take a shit.

My father only told that story once.
That's about all I remember.
But he never missed an episode of Victory at Sea,
we all watched with him on Sundays.

On weekdays that he didn't go to work,
he put an LP record of Rimsky-Korsakov's
Scheherazade on the hi-fi:
let it play over and over;
drank beer, mostly, while the music swelled

to the crashing of the ship. Over and over. A neighbor
honked an ooga horn on his jalopy,
all hands on deck,
my father jumped to his feet,
looked wildly around the living room,
he had no idea what to do.

Dave
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Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:07 pm

Re: A Challenge - Let's See What We Can Create in Honor of Veteran's Day

Post by Dave » Fri Nov 15, 2019 1:00 pm

There are some pretty impressive poems here starting with yours Deb. I have not written anything for ages so this one is going to struggle for any quality but contains the kernal of a thought that has occupied me for a very long time. But first of all a quote from one of the most famous of British WW1 poems:

Laurence Binyon For the Fallen
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.


The Other Hero

You were a complete bastard,
stole and swore, drank more
than your fair share, and hit
your wife, you callous-hearted
swine. no one like you.

But you went over the top
with a moment's thought,
with your mates you were
stamped into the mud
by a shell from across
that rain soaked divide
shorn of poppies;
and died for God and country.

 

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