The h2g2 Poem: Memorial Day

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A poem for Memorial Day, based on a veteran's recollection..

An artist's impression of life in the trenches.

Memorial Day


Once upon a war
Two grimestained soldiers sat
Beside a fire.
Tired, frightened, nineteen.
They drank coffee from tin cups.
Talked about their chances.


'Claude,' said the first soldier,
'You'll make it. You're strong, you're fast.
You're the best shot. You'll get out of here.
I won't.'
The taller soldier looked down at his friend,
Shook his head, patted his shoulder.
They drank the bitter coffee
And went to sleep.


The next day, the soldiers walked into a town
And across a square.
From a third-storey window, a shot rang out.
Claude saw his friend's chest explode.
The first soldier fell where he froze, the life blown out of him.
The others found the sniper - an old man with a rusty rifle.
They took the rifle away, but did nothing else.


Claude went home.
Attended university, got a job, married, had a family.
Reaped the survivor's reward.
Many years later, he told the story
Of the man whose name he could not remember.
He likened the other's sacrifice
To that of the Christ.


Once upon a war –
But it is never once.
All times are one
And every war that was ever fought
Somewhere repeats, endlessly,
The monstrous, random sacrifice
Of life and hope.
God sees, and weeps.


Walk softly among the graves, my friend.
Try not to plant flags.


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Dmitri Gheorgheni

3.06.13 Front Page

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