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Remembering the victims of war
"As long as I am President, we will maintain the finest fighting force that the world has ever known, and we will do whatever it takes to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. This is a sacred trust. That’s why we’ve already made one of the largest increases in funding for veterans in decades. We’re treating the signature wounds of today’s wars -
31 August 2010.
The Abandoned Soldier
The eyes betray the pain
Hollow, empty eyes
A lifetime in one glance
Blinking moist with sadness
In search of understanding
Barely holding back the tear
Alone, standing to attention
A solemn sight for all to view
A stubborn look about the face
Lips taught with embers of defiance
A wry ironic smile
A stoic sense of duty
The glorious dead do not grow old
The living are but vague reminders
Of a soldiers gift and a nations debt
A collective shame unwashed in generations
Putrid and bitter without a voice
Crying out for respect and restitution
Body racked with untold hurt
Phantom pain from near useless limbs
Age has wearied him
And the years condemned
The shadow of a once proud man
Who took the shilling and paid the price
Young men, old beyond their years
Damaged minds in ravaged bodies
Witness to the horrors
Victim of the daily struggle
Stiffened with age and unseen scars
He does not complain, we taught him well
Communities of dead from conflicts past
Stand testament to our human failure
Leaders give no deference to the fallen
Dulce et decorum est…, the oldest lie
Loved ones nurse a heavy burden
Complicit in their fervour
Hand picked like poppies of the field
Blossoms of the poor and disadvantaged
Moulded to be the nations guardians
Hailed as saviours in the morning
Old heroes slowly fade away
Discarded when the sun goes down
In the autumn of our lives
Old soldiers reminisce
Amidst the dreams of death and glory
Two minutes can seem a lifetime
In remembrance of the fallen
A fleeting memory remiss
The promise has been broken
No longer duty-
Honour lies bloody on the altar
A sacrificial lamb
The soldier has been abandoned
In a society that doesn’t care
See Graham Cordwell's personal story and other poems on his page of this website.(Access through MODERN WAR POETRY link on MAIN INDEX page.)
From Cody McEwan, 2008.
I am a U.S. army infantryman, who has spent time in Mosul, and Baghdad.
I found out that not only was the light off,
But it was also broken.
No money for kerosene.
No money for nothin'.
Built my house out of grease cans in the middle of the dump
with the grazing sheep and burning garbage.
I only eat rice and corn chips. It's all I can afford.
I look around for useful things
that other people have thrown away.
I build and make use.
It used to stink here and everywhere
but now I hardly notice.
I long for the once peaceful country under iron fisted security.
Nothin' but cigarettes and death these days.
Sometimes when it's real hot I can smell the bodies
cooking under the trash piles.
I wonder who they are.
Who did they love?
In the winter the floor turns to mud and it's frigid.
My kids are skinny.
My wife is dying.
She's very sick.
I need help, but there is no humanity within a thousand miles of here.
Sometimes thieves come at night and steal my chickens.
Sometimes it seems like our god never loved any of us at all.
Maybe he eats pain like a Sunday snack.
Maybe he keeps all the good feelings for himself.
Or Maybe somewhere in heaven there is a clean little pond
with birds and fish and sheep that reflects a healthier happier me;
with long black hair and a full beard and deep brown eyes
that smile in eternity.
Little, smiling children in the river,
Where we wash our clothes,
Where the sewage flows and their little ribs stick out,
Hugging tuberculosis lungs
from breathing the fire from the tires.
Break them down
Raining, 2 A.M…
We take them so young
Just babies at 18
All volunteers now
Their reasons are so varied
Some like adventure
Some want to save the world
Some like to kill
Some want a long career
Some have no choice
Some want to disappear
Then we break them down
And build them up again
Turn them into fighters
Train them to kill
They’re soldiers now
Part of The Collective Will
Then they come home
And we say they’ve done their job
Some scars we see
Some are invisible
All are indivisible
So it’s all turned around
What’s normal to them now
Forget all that we say
Lead a life we say
Enjoy the freedom and security we trained you to preserve
But it’s never the same
Can’t be 18 again
We break them down
And build them back up again
They’re brothers, and lovers, and wives
They’re always somebody’s friend
But when they go into battle
The only friend they have in the fight
Is the gun in their hand
and the one on their left
and the one on their right
The fog of war sets in
Chaos reigns supreme
The world collapses
Into a singularity
And the scars begin to form
We break them down
And build them back up again
We teach them to kill and die
and if they’re lucky
They last to the end
And then they come home
Their brothers and lovers and wives
Welcome them with open arms
Wrap them in the embrace of love
But it can’t hide the scars
Both seen and unseen
Now they’re at home
The fog comes along for the ride
Clouding the reasons why
Some fought, some killed, some died
We mourn the dead
Their bodies broken and torn
But the living must live on
Fighting their tears
Brain about to explode
With memories inerasable
The worst of it all
They can’t go back again
To remake themselves
To what they were
When at 18 they began
We break them down
by Rebekah Coomber
Rebekah introduces her poem:
I am fifteen years old. A year ago, I visited Auschwitz with a group of friends from England and some that we had met in Germany through the Cross of Nails charity.
I was inspired to write a poem reflecting my views on the Holocaust and this is from a Jewish perspective. (2010)
Sent to a better life, they told us. They lied.
Packed to go, our lives in a suitcase.
Forced on a train, sardines in a tin.
We'll be there soon, they told us. They lied.
Half of us dead, most of us dying.
We arrived, our lives thrust into Nazi fists.
Families separated, people alone.
You'll see them again, they told us. They lied.
They picked us out, worthy from useless.
Was this just a sick game?
Who were they to say? Who were they to judge?
It'll be over in a while, they told us. They lied.
Fear for our lives.
People left and never came back.
Our backs broken, our bodies broken, our hearts broken.
"Heil Hitler, he will save the world," they told us. They lied.
No bravery in our eyes anymore.
Sore from weeping, sore from sleeping.
"Work will set you free, harder," they told us. They lied.
The innocent forsaken.
The faithful destroyed.
How so uncompassionate? How so empty? How so cold?
You are all bad Jews, they told us. They lied.
I am God's child, I told them.
I am a light in the darkness, I told them
It's just a shower, they told me.
They lied. They lied. They lied.
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The War Poetry Website: furthering understanding of war and peace issues through poetry and critical commentary.
The War Poetry Website © David Roberts