Mike Subritzky

WAR POETS MEDLEY

Below is a single verse from many of my favourite war poets of the 20th and 21st century. I have actually attempted to make it flow in an alphabetical order…

I have intentionally not included the name of any of the poems, so if you are further interested, then you must go to the website of the:

International War Veterans Poetry Archives (IWVPA)

… and rummage around through the seemingly hundreds and thousands of poets and poems, so as to find that particular stanza that first caught your eye. The copyright with each and every poem that appears in this medley remains forever the property of the original poet.

Fred Alvis:
He could barely hear the sounds of the two machine guns,
over the whopping of the rotor blades and the voices in his helmet.
He could, however, feel the steady,
regular vibrations as each gun fired.

Billy Barnes:
Then after Saigon’s bloody fall
When Northern Reds swept in,
They tried to build a bamboo wall
To keep their people in.

Ruby Alexandra Beloz:
Who will cry for them now
Their shadows that cry behind the walls
Have we forgotten they gave all…
Yes, these brave Soldiers took the fall

Lawrence Binyon:
They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Rupert Brooke:
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.

Pris Campbell:
The Wall. Littered with names…
too many names.
Does their blood weep from it at night,
seep into the grass?
A chance taken,
to touch home turf one last time?

Tira Cree:
Cold sharpness, rigid in the night.
Where night becomes day
and day just another one at sea,
Watches mingle reality into
shakes and middle vittles.

Dusty:
Goodbye, David –
my name is Dusty.
I’m the last person you will see.
I’m the last person you will touch.
I’m the last person who will love you.

Kathy Earsman:
At a distance
I run beside;
focused on you
my love, home from a war
thirty years ago.

Peter W. Earsman:
I’ve seen your body twist and shrink – oh Lord
forgive me, but I’ve prayed for his release,
You could have saved him simply with Your Word,
but chose to take him from me, piece by piece.

G.K. “Rocky” Fortner:
Nearly forty years have come and gone since I became a man,
‘Twas in the heat, the rain and blood of Southern Viet-Nam…
The battle scars run deep within the prison of my soul,
I’ll not forget the pain, the screams and the horrors of it all…

John S. Garrison:
You ask us why we look away, and why we hardly care.
You tell us not to be ashamed, but who are you to dare?
You see we went to war for you, and sold our souls for good!
We did “Some Things” that you don’t know, and no one understood.

Ross Nepia Himona:
I’ve been to that place and back;
tasted it, felt it, seen it,
heard it, smelt it,
lived the fear,
rejoiced the staying alive.
War is about killing and dying.
War is about death.

Charles J. Ingerson:
Unfurling the curtains
hanging the IV’s sure
drying wounds in rains
transcending fatigue pure.

Gary Jacobsen:
An exploding mortar spun to death and fate,
Raised me to the door of heavens gate.
Spinning on a tenuous strand of life bereft,
I’m blind to “the world” I hadn’t yet left.

Randall Jarrell:
From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from the dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

Colin F. Jones:
They lay spread out along the narrow track
All were dead and drenched in mattered blood
We searched each one and each one’s army pack
Working as quickly as we surely could
Three were men and two were teenage girls
All wearing ID Tags upon their chests
Their faces shone in moonlight like soft pearls…

M.K. Joseph:
Housed under summer leafage at his ease,
Artillery board set up, the captain sees
His rule connect two dots a league apart
And throws destruction at hypotheses,
Wishing that love had ministers like these
To strike its distant enemy to the heart.

Rudyard Kipling:
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!

John McCrae MD:
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Nancy L. Meek:
Hail to Alistair Ross, who offered up his all.
Though he’s at rest today, still he stands so tall,
A tower in the hearts of those who knew him best;
A tree they will recall, who stood above the rest.

John A. Moller:
Floppy hands and heavy carry
to waiting helicopter doors,
and mates who once smiled
now stacked on aluminium floors.

Audie Murphy:
Alone and far removed from earthly care
The noble ruins of men lie buried here.
You were strong men, good men
Endowed with youth and much the will to live.
I hear no protest from the mute lips of the dead.
They rest; there is no more to give.

Steven J. Newton:
The sky was the color of blood
My brothers sitting in a hole
And they were of a kind
Kevlar sticking up just enough
To keep a round from hitting your spine

Wilfred Owen:
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.

Anthony W. Pahl OAM:
Just as the litter was half way in
we started taking fire.
“We’re out of here!” the skipper said,
“Before we’re a funeral pyre.”
I grabbed the hand of the bloke I held
and wiped his face with my sleeve.
His eyes turned up and looked into mine
“I can’t die mate – save me please.”

Richard W. Reith:
Oh sweetie, you have no idea how slow time becomes when death is there, when you think you know that your lifespan is going to be measured in seconds, or minutes. Things that would take a mortal days to consider, you consider without even wanting to. Things it would take a philosopher a lifetime to describe, you describe in your heart a million times.

Mary E. Rogers:
At fifty years the angels came
They took his soul home again
Now he’s free… he remembers no more
The horror and hell of the Vietnam War

Isaac Rosenberg:
They lie there huddled,
friend and foeman,
Man born of man, and born of woman,
And shells go crying over them…
From night till night and now.

Siegfried Sassoon:
I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank-holidays, and pictures shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train.

Christina A. Sharik:
I wore a bracelet for a while
Inscribed with date and name –
I’d never met the missing man
I knew him just the same.

Faye Sizemore:
War has taken her only daughter
in the name of freedom in a foreign land
shot down in a Kiowa OH-58 helicopter…
so young… felled by an Iraqi enemies hand…
awakened while living her dream…
Death had not been in her scheme Ann Hampton…
a Gold Star Mother but a child…
this one has no other…

Mike Subritzky:
A cigarette comrade –
before I die
my face is torn
and my eyes are gone
but if you hold it to my lips
I can still draw the flame.

Edgar A. Tieman:
From 1972 to 1975, he had lay over there…
Then on the caisson he is reverently placed
On a solemn day draped in the fierce colors
That cloaked him in the Red, White, and Blue
The air quite with patriotic incandescence

Garland L. Young:
Darkness swells as the sun sinks, giving way to green,
red, and blue lights, dancing as they move.
The Boss calls out, “Phantoms in the groove.”
Sighs, screams, and moans.
The deck is alive; you can feel it groan.
The strobes, red, and green appear; now we can see
the Phantoms drop into the invisible pathway home.

Thurman P. Woodfork:
Crouched behind the sand bags
Fighting’ off the dread,
Praying that the sunrise
Won’t find them cold and dead.

Andre Zirnheld:
I’m asking You God, to give me what You have left.
Give me those things which others never ask of You.
I don’t ask You for rest, or tranquility.
Not that of the spirit, the body, or the mind.
I don’t ask You for wealth, or success, or even health.
All those things are asked of You so much Lord,
that you can’t have any left to give.
Give me instead Lord what You have left.

“War doesn’t get bloodier… it just gets faster.”

Submitted for the March 2006 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “What IWVPA Means to Me