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Unread 11-11-2019, 10:16 AM
Maryann Corbett's Avatar
Maryann Corbett Maryann Corbett is offline
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Default Armistice Day: Poems against war

We've had threads before, of course, about war and anti-war poems. Sometimes those threads become contentious; I hope this one won't.

With the reminder that one may not post or link to one's own poems, I'd like to encourage posting or linking to newer poems against war. I think it's legitimate to include the poems of people who are, or have been, Sphere participants.

Here is a thread that revisits well-known, and a few less well known, examples.

To start us off, here's Brian Turner's "Here, Bullet."
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Unread 11-11-2019, 10:57 AM
Ann Drysdale's Avatar
Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is online now
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Maryann, clicking on that second link brought up a security warning and a recommendation to go back.

Warning: Potential Security Risk Ahead
Firefox detected a potential security threat and did not continue to If you visit this site, attackers could try to steal information like your passwords, emails, or credit card details.
What can you do about it?
The issue is most likely with the web site, and there is nothing you can do to resolve it. You can notify the web site’s administrator about the problem.

Go Back (recommended)

Can anyone find another link to the poem?

Last edited by Ann Drysdale; 11-11-2019 at 11:05 AM. Reason: added the warning.
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Unread 11-11-2019, 11:06 AM
Maryann Corbett's Avatar
Maryann Corbett Maryann Corbett is offline
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Hmm. I usually prefer to link so as not to appear to violate any poet's copyright, but since that's proving troublesome, here's the poem.

Here, Bullet, by Brian Turner

If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta’s opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you’ve started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel’s cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue’s explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.
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Unread 11-11-2019, 11:31 AM
Maryann Corbett's Avatar
Maryann Corbett Maryann Corbett is offline
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Default and a sonnet . . .

By R.S. Gwynn

The North Atlantic
March, 1944

The “happy time” is long past, and the great
Convoy steams eastward at nine knots to fill
Bellies of bombers and of boys whose fate
Will be to seek out other boys to kill.
Or be killed. Twenty-six, my father stands
The dogwatch, and he smokes and looks to sea,
Having this evening folded many hands
And held out for the right cards patiently,
Raking a future in with bills and chips.
A flash, a muffled crack, and not much more,
And where, a moment since, one of our ships
Has been, more depths of darkness than before,
And, far behind, a home, a son, a wife,
And, waiting with them to be lived, a life.
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Unread 11-11-2019, 11:37 AM
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RCL RCL is offline
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A reading of Frost's "The Cow in Apple Time" (1914) that I can agree with. (I paraphrase it in my current post "Extravagance").

PS: Kendall's page has links to many war poets.

Last edited by RCL; 11-11-2019 at 12:14 PM.
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Unread 11-17-2019, 09:40 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 7,137

Front-Page Photograph: Memorial Day
by Maryann Corbett

Do-nothing day. Still-cool morning.
In bare feet on the concrete stoop,
I pick the paper up, uncurl it,

and see: before a grave's white cross,
(a phrase comes to me: prostrate with grief)
a woman lies face down in the grass,

forehead resting on folded arms.
I glance at the caption: fiancé.
And my thinking shifts, and my face warms--

the shoulders bare, the long legs parted:
the last embrace. Should I be seeing
this act of intimacy thwarted,

this woman-six-feet-above position?
Suddenly now I find myself
firing my hard, unanswered questions

at air, while a stubborn cardinal sings
his turf-war song like a car alarm
and flaps the bloody flag of his wings.

from the 2013 collection Credo for the Checkout Line in Winter
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Unread 12-30-2019, 11:55 PM
Tony Barnstone's Avatar
Tony Barnstone Tony Barnstone is offline
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Cameo Appearance

I had a small, nonspeaking part
In a bloody epic. I was one of the
Bombed and fleeing humanity.
In the distance our great leader
Crowed like a rooster from a balcony,
Or was it a great actor
Impersonating our great leader?

That‘s me there, I said to the kiddies.
I‘m squeezed between the man
With two bandaged hands raised
And the old woman with her mouth open
As if she were showing us a tooth

That hurts badly. The hundred times
I rewound the tape, not once
Could they catch sight of me
In that huge gray crowd,
That was like any other gray crowd.

Trot off to bed, I said finally.
I know I was there. One take
Is all they had time for.
We ran, and the planes grazed our hair,
And then they were no more
As we stood dazed in the burning city,
But, of course, they didn‘t film that.

Charles Simic, ―Cameo Appearance‖ from The Voice at 3:00 AM: Selected Late and New Poems. Copyright © 2003 by Charles Simic.
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Unread 12-30-2019, 11:56 PM
Tony Barnstone's Avatar
Tony Barnstone Tony Barnstone is offline
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 692

Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting
by Kevin C. Powers

I tell her I love her like not killing
or ten minutes of sleep
beneath the low rooftop wall
on which my rifle rests.

I tell her in a letter that will stink,
when she opens it,
of bolt oil and burned powder
and the things it says.

I tell her how Pvt. Bartle says, offhand,
that war is just us
making little pieces of metal
pass through each other.

Source: Poetry (February 2009).

Kevin C. Powers is a poet, writer, and veteran of the Iraq war.
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Unread 12-30-2019, 11:58 PM
Tony Barnstone's Avatar
Tony Barnstone Tony Barnstone is offline
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Posts: 692

After the Wilderness
MAY 3, 1863

When Clifford wasn‘t back to camp by nine,
I went to look among the fields of dead
before we lost him to a common grave.
But I kept tripping over living men
and had to stop and carry them to help
or carry them until they died,
which happened more than once upon my back.
And I got angry with those men because
they kept me from my search and I was out
still stumbling through the churned-up earth at dawn,
stopping to stare into each corpse‘s face,
and all the while I was writing in my head
the letter I would have to send our father,
saying Clifford was lost and I had lost him.

I found him bent above a dying squirrel
while trying to revive the little thing.
A battlefield is full of trash like that —
dead birds and squirrels, bits of uniform.
Its belly racked for air. It couldn‘t live.
Cliff knew it couldn‘t live without a jaw.
When in relief I called his name, he stared,
jumped back, and hissed at me like a startled cat.
I edged up slowly, murmuring ―Clifford, Cliff,‖
as you might talk to calm a skittery mare,
and then I helped him kill and bury all
the wounded squirrels he‘d gathered from the field.
It seemed a game we might have played as boys.
We didn‘t bury them all at once, with lime,
the way they do on burial detail,
but scooped a dozen, tiny, separate graves.
When we were done he fell across the graves
and sobbed as though they‘d been his unborn sons.
His chest was large — it covered most of them.
I wiped his tears and stroked his matted hair,
and as I hugged him to my chest I saw
he‘d wet his pants. We called it Yankee tea.

Andrew Hudgins, ―After the Wilderness‖ from After the Last War. Copyright © 1988 by Andre Hudgins.
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