Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Veterans Day Poetry Post

My father and father-in-law were army veterans of World War II. My uncle Benny, who tried to enlist in the navy, was rejected because he had been burned as a child. He joined the Coast Guard and trained--and later detrained--dogs that were sent to Europe. After the war, my uncle brought one of the dogs home--a sweet-eyed German shepherd named Sadie.

This post is dedicated to my father, father-in-law, and uncle; to the memory of my good friend Steve who was killed in Vietnam; and to all the veterans who have served their country so well.

by William Stafford
(September 24, 1947)

The little table by the big entrance
is for veterans.
If you can present a card
you qualify for Heaven.
Though temporarily of course
you are housed in Hell.

by Eve Merriam

I dream
giving birth
a child
who will ask,
what was war?”

You may want to check out the website of Poets Against War. Here is the mission of Poets Against War as stated on the website: “Poets Against War continues the tradition of socially engaged poetry by creating venues for poetry as a voice against war, tyranny and oppression.”

Here are excerpts from and links to two poems I found at Poets Against War:

by Natasha Maldonado

To tell you the truth,
when my brother was over there,I
hated talking about it.
Just simple facts:
He’s alive.
He is keeping a good attitude.
He’s coming home
any day now.

I tried to find a way not to think
of him being over there.
My nights were consumed with parties
and Keystone filled kegs.
I searched for a solution
at the bottom of every beer filled red cup
and found nothing.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

by Benjamin Arda Doty

Cradle civilization
In your arms, the way
Your mother did,
Hand under head,
So your neck
Wouldn’t break.

Put the child in the crib.
Rock it back and forth, gently,
Because you know
It will soon have nightmares
That will never go away.

You can read the rest of the poem here.


morgan said...

My great grandfather served in World War two and he died last year two days before veterans day and it was devastating. He was the one i went to for advice. i went to him for everything. Then one day I found out that he had stomach cancer and he passed away the next day. My heart was broken. My life was over.
To all of the people who have lodt someone in a war, i totally understand how you feel

Elaine Magliaro said...


Thanks for commenting. I'm sorry for your loss. I'm sure your great grandfather's memory will live on in your heart.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

It's a good day to look over Lee Bennett Hopkins' AMERICA AT WAR, huh?

Elaine Magliaro said...


I just got the book today. I'll have to read it this afternoon.

I'm excited. I just got a great new computer! It's not a laptop--but what's called an all-in-one. It has a big screen top that inludes all the workings and a keyboard. I'll be playing with it all day--and loading all my manuscripts on it.

Terry said...

My grandfather was the son of two Italian immigrants. At 14, he lied about his age to join the navy and fight for the US in World War II. He came home ... but we lost him when I was two. Your selection of poems help me remember him.

Elaine Magliaro said...


My father was a Polish immigrant--as were all four of my grandparents. My husband's paternal grandparents came from Naples, Italy.

It's too bad you lost your grandfather at such a young age.

Tricia said...

Thank you so much for sharing these poems today. My father served in the naval air corps during WWII. He was stationed in Pearl Harbor for the last three years of the war. He doesn't like to talk about it, so it's hard to honor him publicly. Instead, we take today to call him and tell him how much we love and appreciate him without tying it back to this day.

Julie Larios said...

Elaine - thanks for the powerful excerpts w/ links to complete poems (and the link to Poets Against War.) I, too, lost friends in the Vietnam War - it just tore me apart to see their names on the memorial in D.C. My dad fought in WWII, he was a radio man in the Philippines and would never talk about it, never did.

Thanks for the comments over at the Drift Record (where I've added a link to Wild Rose Reader.) We're on the same wave length, I think. I didn't know about the Michael Lythgoe reading of Komunyakaa's poem at Favorite Poems Project site (what a wonderful project that was of Pinsky's.) Thanks for directing me there.

And hey - congratulations on the new computer!

Elaine Magliaro said...


My father served in Europe. He absolutely loved Chipping Norton--a town in the Cotswolds where he was stationed for a time. When my husband and I vacationed in England in 1972, we went to Chipping Norton and traveled through the Cotwolds. We fell in love with the area, too.


The Favorite poem Project published three books. The third book includes a CD of people reading/reciting their favorite poems and talking about the poems and the connections to their lives.

Have you ever read any of Wislawa Szymborka's poetry? She is one of my favorite poets. Her poem "The End and the Beginning" is one of the best anti-war poems I've ever read.

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