Thurman P. Woodfork


Thurman P. Woodfork: A Smile, A Hope

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: May 1, 2007
Awarded: May 1, 2007
The heartbreak from this young lad
trying to smile, with his eyes so sad
that they cause my heart to slow its
beat as I look upon his youthful face,
too innocent, it would seem, to have
a place in something as mean and
cruel as war. I wonder what he
thought he was fighting for.

Did he volunteer, or was he drafted?
Did he feel heroic… or merely
shafted? When I went to war, I was
thirty-one; he looks almost young
enough to have been my son, and
thinking of things like proms instead
of how to avoid enemy bombs, and
survive the lethal jungles of Vietnam.

That he was weary is clear to be seen.
How long had he been living out in
‘The Green’? Hunting and being
hunted ‘til his nerves stretched thin
and the ghost of a smile that had once
been a grin was all that remained of
the youth within.

Did the growing somberness in his
eyes finally smother that smile until it
died? Did the insidious inhumanity
inherent in war change and harden
him even more until he became a
reflexive machine adapting to cope
with the treacherous ‘Green’?

If he did manage to survive the war
and return to his home once more; in
time was he able to revive that grin
until it wreathed his face once again
from laughing eyes to the tip of his
chin? I hope and pray that really came
true. I wish I knew; I wish I knew….