Archive for ‘War’

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Two Boys by Doug Anderson

They take the new machine gun out of its wrap
in pieces, the flat black barrel, the other
parts, delicate in their oil, plastic stock
like a toy until snapped onto the rest,
pressed against the shoulder of the corporal
with almost white blond hair. He looks around
for something to sight in on. With a grin
the other, darker one points to three
children dawdling to school along a paddy dike.
The first rounds are high and the gunner adjusts,
fires again, the children running now,
the rounds pluming in the wet paddies,
another click and all but one child has made
the safety of the treeline, the other splashing
into the new rice, and as the gunner sights in
on him, this eight year old, with wisdom perhaps
from the dead, yanks off his red shirt, becomes
the same color as the fields, the gunner lowering
the muzzle now, whispering a wistful, damn.

From: https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2010/sep/22/poetry-two-boys-doug-anderson/#

Date: 1994

By: Doug Anderson (1943- )

Advertisements
Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Christmas: 1915 by Percy MacKaye

Now is the midnight of the nations: dark
Even as death, beside her blood-dark seas,
Earth, like a mother in birth agonies,
Screams in her travail, and the planets hark
Her million-throated terror. Naked, stark,
Her torso writhes enormous, and her knees
Shudder against the shadowed Pleiades
Wrenching the night’s imponderable arc.

Christ! What shall be delivered to the morn
Out of these pangs, if ever indeed another
Morn shall succeed this night, or this vast mother
Survive to know the blood-spent offspring, torn
From her racked flesh?—What splendour from the smother?
What new-wing’d world, or mangled god still-born?

From: https://poems.khutchins.com/poem/489_christmas-.html

Date: 1917

By: Percy MacKaye (1875-1956)

Monday, 19 November 2018

War on Language by Marian Spires

They say:
Truth is the first casualty of war
but
they are wrong
it is Language

Language goes AWOL when the first shot is fired

Language is packing its bags
it’s heading for the border
looking over its shoulder
nervously checking its papers
will it pass go or
be monopolised
compromised again

Language is waiting in transit
hiding in the hold of a leaking ship
anxious to leave the violence behind
Language knows it will be tortured
if it returns home ˆ it can never return home
Language will risk word smugglers

Language is a refugee
made illegal by circumstance
Language is being detained behind a cyclone fence
it is being held against its will

Language doesn’t know who it can trust anymore
it was rescued and escaped in a mini-bus
then left to fend for itself in a desert of concerned onlookers
all holding remote controls and ready to switch channels

Language has a secret
It knows how quickly
a disturbance becomes an intervention
how overnight it can change from
a local police action
to a global reaction
to first strike and zero tolerance

There is a war on Language.

From: http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/34081/20060904-0000/www.poetsunion.com/PoemsAboutWar.html#JudithRodriguez

Date: 2003

By: Marian Spire (19??- )

Sunday, 18 November 2018

A Century Later by Imtiaz Dharker

The school-bell is a call to battle,
every step to class, a step into the firing-line.
Here is the target, fine skin at the temple,
cheek still rounded from being fifteen.

Surrendered, surrounded, she
takes the bullet in the head

and walks on. The missile cuts
a pathway in her mind, to an orchard
in full bloom, a field humming under the sun,
its lap open and full of poppies.

This girl has won
the right to be ordinary,

wear bangles to a wedding, paint her fingernails,
go to school. Bullet, she says, you are stupid.
You have failed. You cannot kill a book
or the buzzing in it.

A murmur, a swarm. Behind her, one by one,
the schoolgirls are standing up
to take their places on the front line.

From: https://poetrysociety.org.uk/poems/a-century-later/

Date: 2006

By: Imtiaz Dharker (1954- )

Saturday, 17 November 2018

It Is Not You, Pale Lonely Star by Timothy Corsellis

It is not you, pale lonely star,
Nor you, wan weary moon,
With whom I wrestle.
Not with the delicate petal of a rose
Nor with the fantasy of a composer’s tune
Do I match mettle.

It is not death I must fear
For equally I care to live or die
But my struggle is against world’s life
Love beauty? Love nature? I might
If time were granted in this living strife.

My soul was not shaped in hands which chose
The preselection of authority
I cannot live in abstract entities
Comfortable in the canons of convention.

Oh damn the stars,
If I had time enough
I’d turn my music to their praise
But as my limit is the span of living days
I must untune the rhythms of a torpid past
To trace the stern reality of present
Before the future’s eyes.

I will not sing the song of others
In other people’s words;
I will not see the world of others
Through other people’s eyes.
But blue, far into space,
I’ll hurl my judgment of the human race
Upwards to the unassuming sky,
Farther than any bird can fly.

August 22, 1941.

From: Goethals, Helen, The Unassuming Sky: The Life and Poetry of Timothy Corsellis, 2012, Cambridge Scholars Publishing: Cambridge, p. 179.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=NLgwBwAAQBAJ)

Date: 1941

By: Timothy Corsellis (1921-1941)

Friday, 16 November 2018

Thinking Things Through by Jorie Manefield Ryan

Can we think
a thousand times before we kill
the other in the name of power
or land or ideology?

And after we have thought a thousand times,
written down the reasons,
met with friends to test our cause,
renewed the guns and missiles,
cleaned off the button;
when we have stored up food and water
for a siege, sent the children
to a safer place,
shored up bunkers in backyards,
built new ones near the mint,
thought of hero as someone
convulsed and martyred in the mud,
committed maps to memory,
studied up on ciphers, invented
a new history of disease
and buried the family jewels
to foil the looters;
once we have tolled the bells
and prayed our guttural prayers
for the spirit to be named for us;
sent factories into overtime to make the braids
and uniforms, the medals
to decorate the ones who can return,
confused shelling peas with houses,
small kingdoms crushed;
after we check procedures
for the treatment of fallout
from that most unnatural cloud,
and persuaded our young
that it is just to fight this way,
an adventure, safe, no hand to hand;

when we have done these things
and more, could we think
a thousand times again?

From: http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/34081/20060904-0000/www.poetsunion.com/PoemsAboutWar.html

Date: 2003

By: Jorie Manefield Ryan (19??- )

Thursday, 15 November 2018

A War-Cloud by Marrion Wilcox

Gods, so long thought dead,
Flap their wings overhead,
Hover — a war-cloud!
Moloch and Astaroth, Loki and Siva,
Eblis, Asmodeus; famine and fever —
Grendel, the low-browed!
Singhalese demons, Hebrew and Arabic,
Ogre and goblin and vampire and ghoul,
From forest and mountain and graveyard and pool
Greedy or plethoric!

Swooping and darting,
Thronging or parting,
These make the war-cloud:
Diti and Belial, Nyang and Miru,
African devils, South Sea, and Hindu.
These bring the war-shroud:
Persian and Saxon fiends, Norse, Madagascan,
Reeri from Ceylon, Typhaon, Azazel,
Beelzebub, Biam (devils from every hell),—
The fire-fiend Ahriman!

Quicken once more, when we
Lapse into savagery,
Hunger-demons and spirits of darkness, demons of flame and of flood,
Storm-gods, demons of plague and of madness, barrenness, and blood;
Demons that devour men’s food, with those that steal men’s breath,
Bahman, Abaddon, Samaël, with Kali, goddess of death.

From: California Club, War Poems 1898, 1898, The Murdock Press: San Francisco, pp. 22-23.
(https://archive.org/details/warpoems00compgoog/)

Date: 1898

By: Marrion Wilcox (1858-1926)

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Sonnet by Elbridge Jefferson Cutler

The flag is folded; for the battle’s din,
The cry of trumpet and the blaze of gun,
The thunderous rush of squadrons closing in,
The stifled groan, the triumph-shout, are done.

And Peace is come, with passionless, mild eyes,—
A mother’s eyes, a mother’s tenderness;
Calmed by her touch the weary nation lies,
And feels her dewy breath upon his face.

But Time cannot avail, with all his years,
Some chasms in our riven hearts to fill,
Whence misty memories rise to break in tears,
And ghosts of buried hopes that haunt us still,

Yet bring a kind of joy,—the solemn trust
That form is more than unsubstantial dust.

From: Cutler, Elbridge Jefferson, War Poems, 1867, Little, Brown, and Company: Boston, pp. 46-47.
(https://archive.org/details/warpoems00cutliala/)

Date: 1867

By: Elbridge Jefferson Cutler (1831-1870)

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The White Poet Wants to Know Why I Don’t Write More Arab Poems by Leila Chatti

Because, while a war blooms at the margins
of the other country that claims me, still

I am here with my ordinary grief and its language.

Because every time I open my mouth
I am an Arab opening my mouth

and the poem is, and isn’t, responsible.

Sometimes I have to shake
the sand from my story
like a shoe by the side of the road.

I have lost nearly everyone I love, and all
to mundane tragedies.

I have never felt in my bones a bomb’s
radius of light.

The truth is I can only write about God
so many times

before he starts listening.

The truth is, like you,
some days I am struck

by pleasure so simple and insistent
I can’t resist—the sun offering indiscriminate

brightness against my window, on the table
an empty glass glittering

—or sometimes, too, I am unwilling
to mention the wild

flowers staked in the field like flags.

From: https://thegeorgiareview.com/summer-2017/the-white-poet-wants-to-know-why-i-dont-write-more-arab-poems/

Date: 2017

By: Leila Chatti (1990- )

Monday, 12 November 2018

The Silence by Arthur St John Adcock

In the bleak twilight, when the roads are hoar
And mists of early morning haunt the down,
His Mother shuts her empty cottage door
Behind her, in the lane beyond the town:
Her slow steps on the highway frosty white
Ring clear across the moor, and echo through
The drowsy town, to where the station’s light
Signals the 7.10 to Waterloo.

Some wintry flowers in her garden grown,
And some frail dreams, she bears with her to-day –
Dreams of the lad who once had been her own,
For whose dear sake she goes a weary way
To find in London, after journeying long,
The Altar of Remembrance, set apart
For such as she, and join the pilgrim throng
There, at that Mecca of the Broken Heart.

Princes and Lords in grave procession come
With wondrous wreaths of glory for the dead;
Then the two minutes smite the City dumb,
And memory dims her eyes with tears unshed;
The silence breaks, and music strange and sad
Wails, while the Great Ones bow in homage low;
And still she knows her little homely lad
Troubles no heart but hers in all the Show.

And when beside the blind stone’s crowded base,
’Mid the rich wreaths, she lays her wintry flowers,
She feels that, sleeping in some far-off place
Indifferent to these interludes of ours,
No solace from this marshalled woe he drains,
And that the stark Shrine stands more empty here
Than her own cottage, where the silence reigns,
Not for brief minutes, but through all the year.

From: https://allaboutheaven.org/observations/knight-dame-laura-and-st-john-adcock-024352/221

Date: 1930

By: Arthur St John Adcock (1864-1930)