Poetry: Thanks, Mom (MIL, Grandma)

I came across this, so I tweaked it a bit for Mother’s Day. At the time, I didn’t agree with Mom about my decision. But I now realize that she was probably right.


Combatant

It could have been me.
A nod, a blink, or an “okay”
and the next forty-five
years …

(Had I not been killed, maimed,
or driven insane,
as so many young men were.)

… would not have been anything
like the memories I have today,
fifty-seven long years hence,
with contrition, feeling a strange
impersonal loss mired in guilt.

Personal, hidden, illogical
survivor syndrome. I can’t
make sense of it. The feelings
of a warrior, but who wasn’t.

Life choices are often made
thoughtlessly, in a blink.
I could be dead. Change the past?
Not on your life. Or mine.

And Mom would have been
so pissed at me, Jack M.,
and the entire fucking Corps.

Thanks, Mom.


Look both ways at guilt for life:
fortune or folly.
Mind the gaps in the mindless wars with reality.

Poetry: Not So Far Away (NaPoWriMo Day 2)

Today’s prompt was to write a poem about my own road not taken – about a choice of  that has “made all the difference,” and what might have happened had I made a different choice.


Not So Far Away

After Number One’s birth weeks earlier, I drove with
my wife, then a new mom breast feeding our toothless son,
from A&M to Deep East Texas, where the Big Thicket grows.

Where bigotry and Southern Baptist were basic creeds,
where folks accepted and expected compliance from young Aggies.
But this new college grad dad needed a job for his family.

Seen as white, but a liberal-minded, damn-Yankee, kid-cop, I learned
when the high sheriff told me to break up interracial dating,
and the old District Judge, a most influential man of short stature,

told me when they hung, perhaps lynched, the last victim. He knew
the day because he was there. I needed the job but wanted to leave.
White robes on backs and front doors made it clear. Not here.

A return to military life and flight school loomed large
as I felt the call to return to a career I never expected.
Accepted, I was off to months of training to turn the page.

That was fifty years ago. Bill’s now the eldest of three.
People thank me, something that makes me uncomfortable,
but I comply. I nod and smile, accepting patronizing thanks.

A much better world surrounded the life I chose. That time
has passed. Would I now be me, had I not experienced
the twists and turns, of the life I chose, many years ago?


Look both ways as you choose your path.
Mind the gaps closely.
There is always another road to take.