Thursday, May 24, 2007

Memorial Day Doesn't Tell a War- for Somebody Who Once Wore It.


This poem was composed in 1992 at Highground*. It first appeared in Highground Newsletter and the Marshfield Herald. It was re-printed in the chapbook "We're ALL In This Together" and now reappears at One Wordsmith.

“Highground" is the name of a war memorial built on a hill outside Neillsville, Wisconsin. It is a typical bronze casting of soldiers in war but at the back of the monument is a rifle turned upside down (a symbol for peace and “war no more”) and a large set of chimes that ring through valley below with a stirring sound when the wind blows.

Highground is said to be a place of great healing for veterans and those who have been touched by war. You can visit * Highground virtually at http://www.thehighground.org/


MEMORIAL DAY DOESN'T TELL A WAR

~for Somebody Who Once Wore It
I cry today the Memorial.
Highground*,
An empty wind
stirs chimes and hills,
echoes the flood plain
to Southeast Asia.

I smell a country,
taste a soldier’s fear
feel burning straw,
hear a twig,
a mother’s heart,
and a story break
on the six o’clock news.

Sculptured bronze
metal bodies
freeze time
and history
for a nation too easily
forgot the words
“never again.”

A national flag
snaps to attention,
salutes a lonely wind,
and unforgotten war,
a hypnotized people,
an uneasy belief
that a Persian Gulf
and fresh new war
can heal another.

It stings like yesterday
twenty-five years later.
A generation of peace
still missing in action,
the human race
still prisoners of war.

Flowers die,
war memories fade
for those who don’t touch it
but the green patch of cloth
placed on the ground
in the center of a Memorial Day wreath
speaks an authentic story,
tells a war.
A somebody once wore it.

A few Thoughts...

When I think about it, my own life is no less rich and the living no less inspiring than my pioneering ancestors and I come from a long line of Indians and outlaws so don't ever turn your back on me!

Life is, after all, a slice of human consciousness lived from its place in human evolution. "From here to eternity" as it were-- from earth to the stars, from personal space to cyberspace, from a small local footprint to the world reduced to the size of a notebook and sitting on your lap!

As a child I lived with the perpetual and immenent threat of annihilation. That's child abuse! It wasn't a kid-friendly world and I couldn't understand why the grown-ups who were in charge weren't doing something?

So at age seven with my face in the window eyes turned up into the night sky and staring at the stars I made a vow: "When I am a grown-up, I will do something."

My writing is that something and I write to "simply change the world." If that sounds like a lack of humility it isn't because I know that one person absolutely can change the world and I've met some who have.

Kay Kennedy put together an anthology that puts the reader in the midst of history to view it from the inside out.

When I was in high school and even college, history classes were stale and boring featuring memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no human face, certainly no magic, and no life!

Anthologies are great fun and stores are rich remembrances. History books chronicle; stories are little narrative slices of living. History comes alive through story. I often think of my grandmother and her story, her life-- the history she lived. In her lifetime she saw humankind evolve from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

BARBARA'S WORK IN "LOOKING BACK"
I was a sixties kid and for the youth of the sixties, turmoil, disillusionment, and revolution were everyday 'business as usual'. Like a radio perpetually on low volume, fear and death dronned on in the background. The superpowers threatened to extinguish all life on the planet, the Vietnam War was escalating and peers were being escorted home under American Flag blankets. The civil rights and equal rights movements were testing human civility, and faster than one could recover from one shock another real life hero would fall to yet another assassin. Despair was commonplace. Contrast that with a man on the moon... we could conquer space travel but couldn't make nukes or war obsolete! It was a time when youth needed hope because hope was scarce. When it was finally resurrected, it came in the form of idealism and a philosophy of brotherly and universal love. Perfect principles; imperfect execution.

For others who contributed to "Looking Back," the history is different for each because the "times" were different as well as the perspective of the individuals. The stories of human societal evolution are enlightening, heartwarming, poignant and spellbinding. They put a human face on the past.

And there are people now who are putting a face on the future...