James H. Smith


She steps out of a dream, stands dark blue cloak, beside my bed
calls me by a name I do not know
IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: June 13, 2007
Awarded: June 13, 2007
Who are you I ask
This lady with hair of flaming red
A smile but answer not
She holds her hand out instead
It seems we must go, but why I ask
A question you asked, she said, so now I show
The fields of battle, you have often walked
and seen and felt the fear of man
Cursed with a warrior soul you are
curse or perhaps for you a blessing it may be
She took me to see the dead on the fields of Gall
picked clean by the women, battle followers there
Baskets full with treasures these men left behind
treasures mean nothing now, the warrior soul has gone away
She said you have walked though many times
returning each time to learn your way

At the hand of battle many a death I have died
still the battle lust runs deep and clear
Memories of blood, the sword as it rings metal to metal
the Gatling as the chopper comes in low
With the hunters moon, memories of the soul cry out
within shadows we can hide

Forever lonesome is the warrior soul
Then a lesson I did learn
It is I the warrior soul that must reach out
to touch those who care
My own feelings my thoughts my lonesomeness
is a making of but my own
For if I wait for others
I will but find the darkness of my own pity and despair

I have seen death of battle from Gall to Scotland to Asia
I have listened to men cry out as they died
I have seen bodies ripped by sword and gun
And held a friend as his blood bled to the ground
On every field of battle there is beauty
If one but opens their eye’s to see
At Gall the wild yellow rose
a promise of life continuing and love and hope
Scotland, a missing arm and eye, I stopped to smell the honeysuckle
I am lucky many will never come this way again
Vietnam the warrior stops to help a child
beauty is found in the warriors heart and the smile of the child

This life I think has passed the warrior stage
but was I not meant to die along the way
Some lessons I must have learned
to find gray hair now upon my head
Look at your body, the cloaked lady said
see the marks of battle long past
The place the skin is white and the hair won’t grow
It’s just a reminder of the African desert campaign
The red mole shaped like a saber wound
just something that came from Scotland long past
You are learning to be humble (not the warrior’s lot)
So now remember Russia and the party of the Czar

An officer, blue and red uniform all pressed and proper
To a Lady I did brag, I would kill then all
And in short order be home to her before next year’s fall
A brag, then a bullet in my knee I did receive
I lay there in the Russian winter and froze to death
I hope the Lady shed a tear
The Alps I have a small home and family
I walk home after the battle lost, my only treasure my family waiting there
Gone is my home, gone as is my family to where I do not know
I sit on the rocks of my yard and cry
The warrior soul learns many things
Battle being only one, also how to shed many a tear

I have seen the young in battle fall and return too soon
to but another battle they come, no lessons have they learned
Her red hair flashes as she talks of the dark rain that falls on the field of battle
the rain is but the tears of the warrior whose lesson has been lost
The hunter’s moon is in the sky my blood it does make run wild
The streets of Berlin I find myself it’s 1941
The Lady I meet is of the moment a single night but for to spend
The lure of the moon the lust of the night does a passion make to bloom
A quick kind of love does blossom, for tomorrow I am battle bound
An officer of the SS and to Africa I am being sent
A kiss, a wave and off I go, with a promise
thought’s of my wife and child, it is to them I must return
I sit upon the sandy hill, to look upon death below
I walk down to help the poor souls there
Before me do I lay, dead not dying
the shell exploded and took us all, no more to live today
Hold to love with all you can
for it may soon be taken away
Grasp and hold every second for
what moment in time do we have but now
Yesterday is gone with tomorrow yet to come
Today could be the last day we are allowed to stay

Many times have come and gone my warriors memories are near
The body that I dwell in now, not a sword battle has it seen
But the hands love the feel of the hilt, the smell of powder
these make the heart a battle rhythm beat
The warrior soul is challenged now with new wondrous ways
Come now my warrior soul the new challenge me must meet
I sit and think of many things, many questions do arise
Many times I have returned with old friends soon at my side
Must we all come to learn over and over again
or is it to help a brother or sister warrior soul in need
These questions I cannot answer only God knows for sure
Could it be we need to drop the warrior from our name and just be souls all one and the same

Author’s Note: This is the first poem I wrote after returning home from Vietnam. I think it was on an old yellow tablet about ten pages long. Over the years whenever I stumbled upon it, I’ve rewritten, cleaned it up, and thinned it down. I’m sure I still need to work on it more and will at some later date. Right now I can no longer see what I’m reading when I read it. This is the latest rewrite and I thought I would share. This is based somewhat around a dream. I have no idea what or where the fields of Gall are. Warning! For me it’s a long poem.