Sammi’s Weekender #224 (marshal)

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America’s First

An army of one
Pompously preened
Proud Field Marshal for
Pearl of the Orient Seas

Baroque of dress
Greater than grace
Without humility
In defeat or dismissal
Pride over human life, yet
Human to the core, to the corps


Look both ways. History is prophecy.
Mind the gaps and seek the truth that may never be told.


Only one American has held the title of “Field Marshal.” Douglas MacArthur was appointed Field Marshal of the Army of the Philippines in 1936 when the island nation achieved a semi-independent status. MacArthur was to create an army for the fledgling country. He wore a special uniform, complete with a Field Marshal’s baton.

Many beautiful lyrical poems pine after the Philippines. Here, “Pearl of the Orient Seas” alludes to the phrase coined by Juan J. Delgado, a Spanish Jesuit missionary, in 1751, and to a poem by Jose Rizal (Mi ultimo adios), wherein he refers to the Philippines with that name.

Sammi’s Weekender #217 (requisite)

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Tread At Your Own Risk

American men and women at war,
fighters. May I call them warriors?
For their military service
we want to thank them.
Combatants
share experiences
only they understand.
Only they feel it.

Requisites are hated enemies,
courage, weapons, desire for glory, fear,
comrades, pride; and a cause
to die for, one worth killing for.

There’s more.
Much more.
They carry much.

To fear death, or not? To love
and despise simultaneously?
Is war forever part of humanity?
Are we the only creatures
that kill our own for no reason? Just to kill.
To cause death unnecessarily?
Is that combat?


Look both ways for glory and dishonor.
Mind the gaps between mind, heart, and soul.

 

Poetry: Hello, Tom.

All that I can recall
about Tom Steele,
is that he was tall, blondish hair,
quiet, and we never spoke.
We were both CHS
class of 1964, graduates.

His panel is 6E, line 104.
Tom was Army, C Company,
Second Battalion, 16th Infantry,
First Infantry Division. A grunt.
A boots-on-the-ground warrior.

At the Battle of Xa Can My,
April 11th, 1966, Tom was killed,
along with 36 fellow American soldiers,
age 20, not old enough to drink,
but young enough to die.

And I – must remember the boy
to whom I never spoke because
Memorial Day is all about him,
and them, for me to Remember.


Look both ways;
into the past to remember, into the future for something better.
Mind the gaps but try to treat folks with love and respect.
Say it. Care. You never know.

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.

Sammi’s Weekender #183 (Wrangle)

Click to go to Sammi’s page and words of other’s.

Left, Right, Left

Loudly, we would wrangle well into the wee hours.
Gene and I would worry all but us; uneasy friends, smok-an’ drinkin’ buds
with different ways we saw our world.
Not even—no more.


Look and listen both ways. Lean from friends.
Mind the gaps of age and wisdom, our unforgiving nature.

***

 

Poetry: Sammi’s Weekender #163 (unwelcome)


Unwanted Help

Invited to the Inspector General’s team
following years of experience,
known as the dreaded, unwelcome, I.G.,
our evil trope: “We’re here to help.”

Hated and despised, our team
of untrusted inquisitors and fault finders
were greeted with feigned welcomes,
red carpets covering fire and brimstone.

Treated well with subtle urgings, indirect bribes,
kindly disguised distractions and rarely,
outright hostility; like emotionless automatons,
“We are only here to help you do better.”

Fear and respect swam in the same swill.
We were as pleased to leave as they
to see us go.


Look both ways for the best and the worst.
Mind the gaps, therein are found hidden weakness.

Memorial Day Post: Red Poppies

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance to honor those who died in battles of all past wars in service to America. A Memorial Day (or Decoration Day) tradition is the buying and wearing of a red poppy.

The VFW organization has had the Buddy Poppy as its official flower for almost 100 years. Profits from artificial poppy sales have helped countless veterans and their widows, widowers, and orphans over the years. The poppy itself survives as a perpetual tribute to those who gave their lives for America’s freedom. That tradition is based on a poem.

This poem was written by Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon with Canada’s First Brigade Artillery. It expresses McCrae’s grief over the “row on row” of graves of soldiers who had died on Flanders’ battlefields in western Belgium and northern France, with a striking image of the bright red flowers blooming among the rows of white crosses.

The poem, “In Flanders Fields,” was reportedly first printed in the British magazine, Punch, in December 1915.


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.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

by Colonel John McCrae


Look both ways for the reason why, in war some must die.
Mind the gaps and wonder,
“And how many deaths will it take ’til he knows
That too many people have died?”
(“Blowin’ In the Wind” by Bob Dylan)

Sammi’s weekender #152


We wandered aimlessly.

As we toured all the South Pacific islands we could reach,
burning off fuel to be light enough to land.

Some piloted the two-hundred-ton B-52. Like cold war nomads,
we wove through the sky from place to place.

In the air we carved circles around the clouds, talked, ate boxed lunches,
and wondered which of us would write the story and a poem about it.


Look both ways,
unless you’ve been cleared to wander aimlessly.
Mind the gaps,
aviation is inherently dangerous.

Poetry: Makin’ My Bed

Retired me. Who cares?
Nothing left to lose.
But I make my bed
almost every day, if I so choose.
That means something,
but I have no idea what or why.

On most days, that’s a lie cuz,
for five decades,
Yolonda did
but when she don’t,
I do
if I can get there
first and I wonder why.

I look at the sheets, covers, and depending
on the time of year, the top bed spread
searching for signs of how I slept that night.
I mean. Who cares? Right?

The pillow goes to the floor, I press a button
to flatten the mat before the sheet is pulled
to the tight top where
it is — only when made.
Like a surgeon
I begin the art
of vanishing lumps and wrinkles.

The Air Force gave me Army lessons
on how to make my bed,
more like a bunk or cot.

Rudely rousted at reveille with
bright lights and loud
everything to fall out into
the dark of early morning
in a few minutes for roll call.

At 18, mom’s boy had to be
all bright and spiffy,
a sharp troop at Dress right,
DRESS, attentive eyes FRONT.
A bed made so tight
two-bits bounced a foot
or gigged in for the weekend,
shining brogans, boots, buttons, and brass.
Our racks trashed.

Who cares? Right? I did then.
I look at my bed now,
no olive drab green wool blanket,
tightly tucked with
no fake pillow
too small for a human head,
no quarter to bounce.

Retired but bed made.
No gigs. Weekends free, still. A made
bed is work of art, a memory,
and if nothing else,
it’s ready for me at the end of this day.

Play Retreat first, then Taps, sleep well,
final Reveille sounds early.

***

Both ways begin with dreams at night,
in the morning it’s high and tight.
Look both ways.
Mind the gaps and the gigs. FALL OUT!


Gig is military slang for demerit. Gigged in means restricted to barracks due to excessive demerits. “Gig ‘em, Aggies!” is not the same gig.