Essay

When Yellow Ribbons and Flag-Waving Aren't Enough

An ex-soldier's take on recent war poetry.

by Nathaniel Fick
Sinan Antoon, The Baghdad Blues, Harbor Mountain Press, 42 pp., $10.00.

Randall Jarrell, Selected Poems, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 115 pp., $16.00.

Kent Johnson, Lyric Poetry After Auschwitz, Effing Press, 44 pp., $7.00.

Dunya Mikhail, The War Works Hard, trans. by Elizabeth Winslow, New Directions Publishing, 79 pp., $13.95.

Brian Turner, Here, Bullet, Alice James Books, 71 pp., $14.95.

* * *

I first flew into Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001, near midnight, with a rifle by my side and no passport in my pocket. At 24 years old, I commanded a Marine Corps infantry platoon, spearheading the attack against the Taliban after September 11. My men and I had all joined a peacetime military, and that night we were self-consciously aware of heading into combat for the first time. Nearly six years later, on a sunny afternoon, I’m again soaring over the Hindu Kush range. This time, I’m on an Indian Airbus, sipping sparkling water and reading war poems.

After two combat tours (we did another in Iraq in 2003), I left the military to study for a master’s degree in public policy and an M.B.A. Now I live with my fiancé in Boston. We host dinner parties, grow herbs on the windowsill, and go walking in the park on Sundays. It’s four years and 10 lifetimes since my last ambush patrol, and I’ve been invited back to the fray to teach at the Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Academy, a school set up to train Afghan and NATO troops on the finer points of fighting insurgents. For some reason, I’ve agreed to come.

The bag at my feet is filled with military manuals, but I prefer the poems, thinking they may be my last chance to reflect for a while. War’s intensity is a great catalyst for reflection, but few combatants can afford the luxury. Most real thought must wait until the shooting stops. I wish I could say I took strength in combat from poetry or prayer or love, but I didn’t. I was concerned with more prosaic things: studying maps, planning missions, and cleaning weapons. When I had a few minutes free, I slept.

I do, though, remember two encounters with poetry during my first trip to Afghanistan. Late one evening, while camped in the desert near Kandahar, one of my marines called me over to listen as he read aloud from a book of Kipling’s verse:
When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
He laughed, and so did I, mainly because it didn’t seem very funny at the time.

The second poem, Alastair Reid’s translation of “The Just,” by Jorge Luis Borges, was mailed to me by a friend. I tacked it to the wall in our temporary command post, between a map of southern Afghanistan and a roster of my platoon, because it was that most precious of possessions in a combat zone: a reminder of normal life at home:
A man who cultivates his garden, as Voltaire wished.
He who is grateful for the existence of music.
He who takes pleasure in tracing an etymology.
Two workmen playing, in a café in the South, a silent game of chess.
The potter, contemplating a color and a form.
The typographer who sets this page well, though it may not please him.
A woman and a man, who read the last tercets of a certain canto.
He who strokes a sleeping animal.
He who justifies, or wishes to, a wrong done him.
He who is grateful for the existence of Stevenson.
He who prefers others to be right.
These people, unaware, are saving the world.
Like Kipling and Borges, Randall Jarrell is a poet known even to the Tom Clancy crowd, so I let down my tray table and open his Selected Poems first. I dimly associate his name with the image of a dead bomber crewman washed from his turret with a hose. Despite this subliminal familiarity with Jarrell’s work, I find that my current circumstances lend new meaning to “Eighth Air Force”
If, in an odd angle of the hutment,
A puppy laps the water from a can
Of flowers, and the drunk sergeant shaving
Whistles O Paradiso!—shall I say that man
Is not as men have said: a wolf to man?

The other murderers troop in yawning;
Three of them play Pitch, one sleeps, and one
Lies counting missions, lies there sweating
Till even his heart beats: One; One; One.
O murderers! . . . Still, this is how it’s done:

This is a war. . . . But since these play, before they die,
Like puppies with their puppy; since, a man,
I did as these have done, but did not die—
I will content the people as I can
And give up these to them: Behold the man!

I have suffered, in a dream, because of him,
Many things; for this last saviour, man,
I have lied as I lie now. But what is lying?
Men wash their hands, in blood, as best they can:
I find no fault in this just man.
This is how it’s done: This is a war . . . Along with the manuals, my bag holds ballistic goggles and a holster to carry a concealed pistol. Six weeks ago, it held accounting textbooks. One of war’s more jarring traits is that it sweeps normal people into its maelstrom and carries them along to places they never imagined they’d be. I clearly remember munching a granola bar one morning in Iraq when my Marines saw a man sneaking toward us with an AK-47. After giving the order to shoot him, I went back to my breakfast.

Kent Johnson, in his collection Lyric Poetry After Auschwitz, takes these contrasts even further. In his title poem, even the most sadistic abusers do indeed troop in yawning. Five corn-fed American guards at Abu Ghraib greet their Iraqi prisoners: “What’s up, Ramal, I’m an American boy, a father, two children, graduate of Whitman High,” or “Hi there, Hajaz, I’m an American girl, former Vice-President of the Heartland High Young Democrats and Captain of our Regional Championship pom-pom squad.” After the innocent introductions, each fictional soldier cuts to the chase: “But I’m going to fuck you in the ass now with a fluorescent light tube, you sorry-assed, primitive thug,” and “Look at the camera when I talk to you, asshole, or I’ll go get the dog.”

The proclivity for wanton destruction is hardly a phenomenon of modern warfare. Johnson’s opening poem, “Mission,” describes a force of Greeks setting sail from Pylos for Asia, stopping along the way to write poems and rest near a waterfall.

We spoke in low voices of the beauty around us, of the dark, darting trout,
and of the strange, haunting songs in the towering trees. We spoke of time, and
friendship, and truth. Then each of us drank deeply from the pool.

Aided by the gods, we stormed Smyrna, and burned its profane temples to the ground.

How many American platoons have relaxed in the shade, playing cards, then said a prayer together, gone out on patrol, and killed a dozen people in an ambush? It’s not good or bad. In war, it just is, and always has been.

Don’t believe, however, that combat isn’t deeply felt by warriors. Consider U.S. Army Sergeant Brian Turner. He distilled his year in Iraq into a haunting book of poems titled Here, Bullet. Turner initially kept his work to himself because he didn't want his men to think he was writing about “flowers and stuff.” One of my favorites is titled “Ashbah,” Arabic for “ghosts.”
The ghosts of American soldiers
wander the streets of Balad by night,

unsure of their way home, exhausted,
the desert wind blowing trash
down the narrow alleys as a voice

sounds from the minaret, a soulful call
reminding them how alone they are,

how lost. And the Iraqi dead,
they watch in silence from rooftops
as date palms line the shore in silhouette,

leaning toward Mecca when the dawn wind blows.
Having walked Iraq’s streets by night and felt that dawn wind bending the palms, I get lost when I read Turner’s verse. His words are worth a thousand pictures, and they take me right back. My memories are mostly sentence fragments now, rather than chapters, or even paragraphs. A boy with a bellyful of bullets. Birdsong in the palms. The taste of fear, like a penny on your tongue. Flames in the night sky. More than mere scene-setting, Turner captures the feel of the place, the sheer forlorn emptiness of it.

Jim Webb (now the junior senator from Virginia) begins his classic Vietnam novel Fields of Fire with a lament from an anonymous general to newspaper correspondent Arthur Hadley: “And who are the young men we are asking to go into action against such solid odds? You’ve met them. You know. They are the best we have. But they are not McNamara’s sons, or Bundy’s. I doubt they’re yours. And they know that they’re at the end of the pipeline. That no one cares. They know.”

Soldiers and Marines today know it as well. Yellow ribbons and flag-waving aren’t much. Even aboard a commercial flight on a bright day, I know it too. If, in two hours, a bomb goes off on the airport road, or if, tonight, a lucky mortar round falls into the camp, no one will cry except my family. Despite the very real comradeship and teamwork, soldiering is, in the end, the loneliest of professions.

Maybe this explains the solemn solidarity that exists between warriors and civilians who’ve lived through war. They have more in common with each other than with their counterparts who’ve only known peace.

Sinan Antoon studied at Baghdad University before moving to the United States after the 1991 Gulf War. We stood on opposite sides of a chasm: I was a combatant, and he was a civilian. But Antoon understands war’s egalitarian nature: that it often doesn’t matter which end of the gun we’re on.

In “A Prisoner’s Song,” Antoon writes of a POW returning from captivity after the Iran-Iraq war:
from the distant fog
after communiqués had withered
and cannons stopped spitting
he returned
soaked with the “there”
his silence an umbrella
under our ululation
he passed by us
through us
to his old room
No family member of a returning combat veteran can read those lines and not recognize, viscerally, the silence of the “there.” Antoon touches another universal theme in “Sifting,” a poem of but 12 words:
my eyes
are two sieves
sifting
in piles of others
for you
A husband scanning a crowd of refugees for his wife? Maybe a sister seeking her brother in a line of captured soldiers? Or how about a young Marine at a checkpoint? He’s desperately searching for the tell-tale bulge of a suicide vest, a nearly hopeless task since he’s looking not for a known face among strangers, but for a phantom among shades.

Like Antoon, Dunya Mikhail fled Iraq in the 1990s. The title poem in her collection, The War Works Hard (winner of a 2004 PEN Translation Fund Award), turns President Bush’s oft-repeated phrase on its head.
How magnificent the war is!
How eager
and efficient!
. . .
The war continues working, day and night.
It inspires tyrants
to deliver long speeches,
awards medals to generals
and themes to poets.
It contributes to the industry
of artificial limbs,
provides food for flies,
adds pages to the history books,
achieves equality
between killer and killed,
teaches lovers to write letters,
accustoms young women to waiting,
fills the newspapers
with articles and pictures,
builds new houses
for the orphans,
invigorates the coffin makers,
gives grave diggers
a pat on the back
and paints a smile on the leader’s face.
The war works with unparalleled diligence!
Yet no one gives it
a word of praise.
As the plane drops toward the runway, into surface-to-air missile range, I realize the poems have indeed prompted reflection. My heart’s beating faster, and I’m thinking of Turner’s wind, Antoon’s sifting eyes, and Mikhail’s working war.

They remind me where I’ve been, and make me wonder why the hell I’ve come back.

Homepage photo by Matthew Doherty.
Originally Published: September 11, 2007

COMMENTS (16)

On September 12, 2007 at 10:28am Larry Dobie wrote:
THE REFUSAL

You asked this man who was a boy

To take his life by his own hand,

To freely give, himself destroy

Upon those plains that echo Troy

And see the best of men unmanned.

If, after he had ceased to be,

You’d set no other boys aflame

With thoughts that he had fought to free

Ought but his own fantasy,

A task pursued by fools in vain;

Or if, after I’d my self set free,

Led my mad heart to its grave,

You’d ceased to preach of liberty

And thought, by thinking, you could save

What is at birth in slavery

And bound by flesh that falls away;

We’d have known that you could promise

More than we can promise you,

And we’d be somewhat less self-conscious,

We who say man must self choose

If he’s to stand before what is

And do what he was born to do;

And I’d be lying by my brothers

Dead upon those plains so red,

Or I’d be fighting with an other

Where heroes fight, and fools led.

On September 13, 2007 at 10:42am Rich Moniak wrote:
There is so much in Nathanial Fick's essay to absorb. It deserves the same level of reflection he describes as prompted by the poetry, which itself seems to have begun in the reflection of what “soldiering is, in the end, the loneliest of professions.?

Why did he go back, I wondered throughout the reading, with military manuals to teach “the finer points of fighting insurgents?? He has so much more to offer, I insisted, as if he betrayed the depth of his poet’s heart.

Reading poetry never comes easy for me, if I ever grasp it at all. I felt my own loneliness, the traditional lifelong questions plaguing. What am I missing that you see, that others so readily appreciate? Buried like the meaning in the poetry was something beyond loneliness.

But really, in these internal debates, I leaned to betraying him. Isn’t this perhaps as he predicts, for not having not much in common, the warrior there and here where I’ve only known peace. Is it that I don’t want to work hard enough to understand, or is it really beyond me because I’ve never been a soldier? Why did he go back?

I reluctantly clicked on the link to the Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Academy, and like he was listening to my questions, I imagined hearing his reply: “the first tenet is that the best weapons don't shoot?. Fick is on a mission that only a soldier can teach other soldiers. The war is not done working on him.

So much to read again and think about. Thanks for sharing it, even if it means more work.

On September 14, 2007 at 1:41pm GM wrote:
This is a fine review, and in particular Brian Turner's "Here, Bullet" is a wonderful book. It is great to see that the book also rings true for those who have been there.

In the same way, anti-war or protest poetry can be universal, just as peace and justice should be universal, as many argued throughout history.

Check out Vol. 6 of Poems Against War: A Journal at www.poemsagainstwar.com.

Here's another review of "Here, Bullet" with links to some of Turner's poems:

"Shoot Me If You Can: A Soldier Reports Back From Iraq" by Gregg Mosson

http://baltimore.indymedia.org/newswire/display/13592/index.php

On September 17, 2007 at 11:00am Philip Metres wrote:
Fick is a man of great feeling and intelligence, a soldier who reminds us of the humanity of soldiers in spite of what they face and are called upon to do. His words remind me of an old friend, poet and Marine Joel Poudrier. Joel is still (and will always be) Semper Fi...yet my first encounter with him was through his poems. As the editor of the college literary journal, I and my editorial staff were blown away by his real world adventures narrated in his poems. I tracked him down to interview him and ask him for poems.

My only struggle with Fick's review was his rather blithe statement about the egalitarian nature of war in Antoon's verse: "We stood on opposite sides of a chasm: I was a combatant, and he was a civilian. But Antoon understands war’s egalitarian nature: that it often doesn’t matter which end of the gun we’re on." That soldiers (particularly ones of an occupying foreign power) are incredibly vulnerable is very true. But the "often" of Fick's phrase gets larger, the closer you are to actually being on the wrong end of a gun. Having had an Uzi pointed at me, I can say that I felt very little of the egalitarian nature of war.

On September 19, 2007 at 9:16am Jane Sweetland wrote:
I have been looking for just such an article as Nathaniel Fick has written here, for quite some time. I publish a print magazine containing writing and photography by young people between the ages of 16 and 24. Most of my contributing artists are in high school or college. Mr. Fick's article and background make me, once again, acutely aware that there are many young people in this very same age group who are currently serving in Iraq. It is at times disconcerting to think that equally gifted young poets are writing amidst the turmoil of war.

I have been seeking a way of reaching these young writers, as we have been formulating a special addition of our magazine The Puck Review, to feature young writers and photographers in Iraq.

If Mr. Fick, or anyone, can direct me to a method or reaching these young writers, please let me know. I can be contacted at the magazine website: www.thepuckreview.com or by email: info@thepuckreview.com

Many thanks. I'm grateful to Mr. Fick for bringing this to light for all of us.

On September 26, 2007 at 10:15pm Majid Naficy wrote:
Why do you call yourself "an ex-soldier" if you are going back to Afghanistan? It seems to me that by quoting Randal Jarrell's line "This is how it's done, this is war" you want to justify the art of killing; on the contrary, from this poem you should learn how to stop the war. If the poetry of these poets that you have mentioned their names had not taught you to refuse fighting an unjust war what is their poetry good for? Nathaniel, be brave and do not go back to the front.

On November 19, 2007 at 6:58pm Daniel Rifenburgh wrote:
Thanks for a fine article. I first came across Bryan Turner's poems as a reader of anonymous submissions to the National Endowment For The Arts "Operation Homecoming" anthology. His work stood out with incredible force and power, and I've since become a fan. I would recommend the NEA anthology, "Operation Homecoming," published by Random House, to anyone interested in reading further.

On December 7, 2007 at 11:17pm Tom Zart wrote:
SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF WORLD WAR III

Our sons and daughters serve in harms way

To defend our way of life.

Some are students, some grandparents,

Many a husband or wife.

They face great odds without complaint

Gambling life and limb for little pay.

So far away from all they love

Fight our soldiers for whom we pray.

The plotters and planners of America’s doom

pledge to murder and maim all they can.

From early childhood they are taught

To kill is to become a man.

They exploit their young as weapons of choice

Teaching in heaven, virgins will await.

Destroying lives along with their own

To learn of their falsehoods too late.

The fearful cry we must submit.

And find a way to soothe them.

Where defenders worry if we stand down

The future for America is grim.

Now’s not the time to fight one another

Or kiss our enemy’s cheek.

All through history it remains the same

The strong enslave the weak.

May God continue to bless America

Refusing evil, the upper hand.

It’s up to us to stay resolute

Defending the liberty of Man.

The White House

Washington

March 16, 2007

Ms. Lillian Cauldwell

President and Chief Executive Officer

Passionate Internet Voices Radio

Ann Arbor Michigan

Dear Lillian:

Number 41 passed on the CDs from Tom Zart. Thank you for thinking of me.

I am thankful for your efforts to honor our brave military personnel and their families. America owes these courageous men and women a debt of gratitude, and I am honored to be the commander in chief of the greatest force for freedom in the history of the world.

Best Wishes.

Sincerely,

George W. Bush

“TOM ZART’S 303 POEMS?

You can hear all of Tom Zart’s 300 poems of love, war, faith and more 24-7 on web radio at=

http://internetvoicesradio.com/Arch-TomZart.htm

Tom Zart ARCHIVES:

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Special

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http://www.globalspecialoperations.com/tomzart2.html

Poems of Love, War, Faith And More

By Tom Zart “Soldier For The Lord?

Most Published Poet On The Web

Author of LOVE WAR AND MORE

On December 7, 2007 at 11:22pm Tom Zart wrote:
SATAN’S HORDE SHALL BE REMOVED

Overrun with war and uncontrolled leaders,

Our world becomes more dangerous each day.

dishonest politicians, criminals and the media

Survive by their falsehoods at play.

Bible believers preach, that the end is near

Our world as a whole is beyond reform.

God will eradicate all which is wicked

By his fire of eruption and storm.

To evil’s victory, I will never concede

May its supporters anguish in hell.

By the grace of God and the power of faith

The goodness of man will prevail.

What we accomplish is heaven’s measure

As patriots respond to the threats of man.

Protect and defend what we love till death

As the soldiers of Satan arise from the sand.

FELLOW AMERICANS

Will we battle terrorism as it should be fought

Or run away and let evil doers chase us to our door?

Will we protect our freedom and system of life

As our fathers and grandfathers sacrificed before?

Will we secure our borders against illegal entry

Or let our economy and security be destroyed?

Will we finally stop runaway wasteful spending

By leaders who are self-serving and void?

Will we continue to pledge our help to the less fortunate

Who suffer from war, hunger and disease?

Will we preserve our heritage and our future

From those who wish to bring liberty to its knees?

Never be afraid to be proud of America

And march with the thankful, honorable and just.

Never surrender our freedom of choice

Standing firm for what we believe and trust .

AS THE MADNESS OF WAR TELLS ITS STORY

Goodness must overrule absolute evil

Though there’s nothing worse than war.

Sometimes we have no alternative option

Except to kill or be killed as before.

The best of plans can go amiss

With uncertainties till the first shots are fired.

As generals plot their path toward victory

It’s up to the wounded, the fallen and tired.

It’s not how strong or athletic you are

That decides who is blessed to return.

Those who survive are a product of luck,

And our prayers and support they’ve earned.

War seems to peel the veneer off society

Exposing our villain within.

A crazy obsession to rule over others

By death, destruction and sin.

The mayhem of conflict is a ongoing scourge

Robbing man from intended glory.

The hinge of history swings in all directions

As the madness of war tells its story.

THE LONELINESS OF WAR

I know I’m still here so far, far away,

As I fight for what I believe is right.

I wonder about you and your mom,

Every moment of every day and night.

The loneliness of war can drive you insane,

If you don’t get letters of concern from home.

Left, right, behind and ahead,

Death awaits leaving love ones alone.

We pray to God that we will be saved

To return home or live the here after.

Bloody, dirt-covered men, we see everyday,

As we yearn for those times of laughter.

The far off stare of a fallen comrade,

As you stay by his side till his end.

No mother ever carried her infant child,

More carefully, than we do a friend.

Many have their own personal diaries,

To help keep their faculties together.

Watching hot steel crash into human flesh,

Always makes home seem far away and better.

I’ve become an expert at dodging, weaving and diving,

So try not to worry too much about me.

Just help your mom and stand up from the ground,

And while I’m gone be all you can be.

SOMETIMES

I'm a soldier, who fights on foreign soil,

Some say, we're here, because of oil.

But, I'll do my duty and proudly serve;

Knowing death may await me around the curve.

Sometimes it's hard to defend what's right,

Sometimes we're forced to rise up and fight.

Sometimes we survive, while others must die,

Sometimes never knowing the reason why.

The rush of combat is a natural buzz,

Caused by fear, leaving nothing as it was.

Hunting one another like wild game,

Without a shortage of those to blame.

Sometimes victory comes too slow or quick

Sometimes the cost on both sides is sick.

Sometimes God is asked to intervene,

To help stop the savage from being so mean.

War is a hell we visit before death

Fueled by the whisper of the devil's breath.

There must be a reason man destroys man,

But why it is so, I can't understand.

FORMIDABLE FOE

America is the birthday cake of earth,

As the ants march from every direction.

Thank God for all who have sworn to defend her,

Serving with love, honor, pride, and affection.

Since the first day George Washington marched off to war,

There have been those who have wished our demise.

Their hatred, fueled by jealousy and greed,

Was defeated by our brave and the wise.

Once again, we must face a formidable foe,

Who have pledged by their God to destroy us all

Misusing their faith as an excuse to kill,

As for a worldwide jihad, their leaders call.

Some say we should try to appease them,

For if we resist, they’ll hate us even more.

But the David's among us shall cast our stones,

Defeating them, as it was done before.

By Tom Zart

On December 10, 2007 at 10:59am Tom Zart wrote:

You may publish my works if you wish?

Tom Zart

The White House

Washington

March 16, 2007

Ms. Lillian Cauldwell

President and Chief Executive Officer

Passionate Internet Voices Radio

Ann Arbor Michigan

Dear Lillian:

Number 41 passed on the CDs from Tom Zart. Thank you for thinking of me.

I am thankful for your efforts to honor our brave military personnel and their families. America owes these courageous men and women a debt of gratitude, and I am honored to be the commander in chief of the greatest force for freedom in the history of the world.

Best Wishes.

Sincerely,

George W. Bush

You may publish any of my poems that you may wish on your site.

=Tom Zart

Most Published Poet On The Web

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF WORLD WAR III

Our sons and daughters serve in harms way

To defend our way of life.

Some are students, some grandparents,

Many a husband or wife.

They face great odds without complaint

Gambling life and limb for little pay.

So far away from all they love

Fight our soldiers for whom we pray.

The plotters and planners of America's doom

pledge to murder and maim all they can.

From early childhood they are taught

To kill is to become a man.

They exploit their young as weapons of choice

Teaching in heaven, virgins will await.

Destroying lives along with their own

To learn of their falsehoods too late.

The fearful cry we must submit.

And find a way to soothe them.

Where defenders worry if we stand down

The future for America is grim.

Now's not the time to fight one another

Or kiss our enemy's cheek.

All through history it remains the same

The strong enslave the weak.

May God continue to bless America

Refusing evil, the upper hand.

It's up to us to stay resolute

Defending the liberty of Man.

SO DEAR TO MY HEART

So dear to my heart are my loved ones at home

As I toss and I turn in my bunk all alone.

Everyday I see death, hate, and corruption

Combat is God's proof of man's malfunction

For family, comrades, and myself I pray

To my love with this poem I wish to convey.

I knew I loved you though never how much

Till by war, I'm forced beyond your touch.

Where violence thrives, there's the stench of death

With the taste of fear on every breath.

Who shall prevail, who shall die

As the sadistic kill beneath God's sky.

Baghdad has become man's highway to hell

Where the hearts of darkness are alive and well,

I count each day till it's time to come home

And be with my love and never alone.

Love You

Your Marine

FREEDOM

In their new uniforms,

The young march off

Not knowing who shall return.

With a proud devotion,

They brandish their flag

Leaving loved ones to wonder and yearn.

May we all be buried

By all of our children

Is an ancient tribal prayer.

They're so easy to lose

But so hard to forget;

Such a burden for a parent to bear.

Oh, the taste of victory

Shall soon be forgotten;

But, never that which was lost.

For those rows of white headstones

In peaceful green fields,

Make it easy to tally the cost.

America has survived all attempts to destroy

Knowing the cruelty of war,

And, we who remain

Must help keep her free

For those who can march no more!

OUR FLAG

Our flag is fabric wove of thread,

Carried by heroes live and dead.

She stands for justice and courage too,

With her colors; red, white and blue.

For all who serve her, there'll be cheers,

For any who die, there'll be tears,

For all who love her, life is swell,

For those who harm her, war is hell.

How many moms have cried before,

As they sent their children to war.

How many dads have not returned,

Because our freedom must be earned.

Wars were waged where brave men died

As patriots fought side by side.

Our flag is still the pearl of earth,

Because of those who prove her worth.

LOVE OF COUNTRY

I dedicate this poem from inside my tent,

As the desert winds keep it's silhouette bent.

My love of country is at full boil now,

I'd like to describe it but it's hard to know how.

Tomorrow I'll hunt those who enjoy our death,

Cursed by their hatred and foulness of breath.

I don't care if it's another God they serve,

For their crime's retribution is what they deserve.

Their horde survives by a different set of rules,

Though soon they'll learn the fate of murderous fools.

Proudly I serve my homeland and president,

Who I've sworn to defend one hundred percent.

While haunted by visions of what I must do,

I fight for justice, and the red, white, and blue.

VETERAN'S DAY

The cost of freedom is sometimes high,

Extremely more when our loved one's die.

Men and women pledged to fight and serve,

And it's our support that they deserve.

Mankind itself is the one to blame,

That all through history, the story's the same.

Peace, like love, can be hard to acquire,

Subject always to enemy fire.

Some how the righteous tend to prevail,

Over the miss-guided, prone to fail.

No wonder we fear the tongues that lie,

As mankind squabbles beneath God's sky.

The danger our solders face is real,

So lets let them know just how we feel.

Put forth your flag and show them your heart,

As those we love from us depart.

THE BATTLE FOR BAGHDAD

Determined though scared, I walk my beat,

On the deadly streets of Baghdad.

Searching for any who plot our harm,

Or by our death are joyous and glad.

Standing in shadows caused by the moon,

I'm reminded of my nights back home.

I wonder if the woman I love

Is growing tired of sleeping alone?

I feel remorse for all who live here,

For this place is a madman's hell.

And those who wish to keep it that way

Must be killed or locked away in jail.

My greatest fear is not my death,

But that I'll end up in a wheelchair.

Disabled for the rest of my life,

Depending on others for my care.

My wife, she prays for my safe return,

As night and day more GI's are killed.

She knows quite well, whatever it takes,

The oath I've given will be fulfilled.

SADDAM

The king of Baghdad has fallen,

Never to dictate again.

Man shall sentence him for this crimes,

And heaven shun him for his sin.

For his tyranny, he was famous,

In every capital on earth.

Till apprehended in his spider hole,

Completely stripped of his worth.

He is guilty of rape and genocide,

While he ruled without remorse.

His power and prestige were toppled;

Once George Bush set his course.

Though it may seem that the wicked triumph,

And have conquered by their brutality of hand,

Through the power of faith "They are defeated,"

By the seed of goodness in man.

FORMIDABLE FOE

America is the birthday cake of earth,

As the ants march from every direction.

Thank God for all who have sworn to defend her,

Serving with love, honor, pride, and affection.

Since the first day George Washington marched off to war,

There have been those who have wished our demise.

Their hatred, fueled by jealousy and greed,

Was defeated by our brave and the wise.

Once again, we must face a formidable foe,

Who have pledged by their God to destroy us all

Misusing their faith as an excuse to kill,

As for a worldwide jihad, their leaders call.

Some say we should try to appease them,

For if we resist, they'll hate us even more.

But the David's among us shall cast our stones,

Defeating them, as it was done before.

SHOULD TOMORROW START WITHOUT ME

Should tomorrow start without me

Remember I love you.

Looking down from up above

Seeing everything you do.

If I become a casualty

I pray you will love again

Whom ever makes you happy

I'll consider my friend.

Should tomorrow start without me

Remind our boys, God loves all who care.

And when life seems too harsh and cruel

With "Him" they must share their prayer.

I have proven I'm not a coward

Who breaks and runs to survive.

Always fearing death will kiss me

As the streets of Baghdad I drive.

Should tomorrow start without me

Be proud I choose to serve.

Our faith and our patriotism

Earn the freedom we deserve.

I miss home more than ever

It breaks my heart to stay away

I can't help but want to hold you

And whisper what I say.

AMERICAN SOLDIER

Our soldiers line up to be remembered

As the best of the best at their job.

They wish to be needed and depended on

To save all we love from the mob.

They risk their life and limb for liberty

Standing firm against evil unwilling to break.

To be part of something greater than themselves

They are willing to sacrifice whatever it will take.

THANK HEAVEN FOR HEROES

Thank heaven for the heroes of life

Who lead us to overcome those who are not.

The wise are grateful for all God's blessings

Where fools never realize what they've got.

America is the grain train of earth

Whose people exercise rule by their vote.

All have a chance to partake and prosper

As they arrive by foot, plane or boat.

Our freedom relies on the law of the land,

Our future depends on our grit.

Our past has known both good and bad

And our mistakes we are willing to admit.

The grim of heart hate America

And choose to put her wonders to shame

The devotion of most who love and live here

Rise up to defeat the soldiers of blame.

THE LONELINESS OF WAR

I know I'm still here so far, far away,

As I fight for what I believe is right.

I wonder about you and your mom,

Every moment of every day and night.

The loneliness of war can drive you insane,

If you don't get letters of concern from home.

Left, right, behind and ahead,

Death awaits leaving love ones alone.

We pray to God that we will be saved

To return home or live the here after.

Bloody, dirt-covered men, we see everyday,

As we yearn for those times of laughter.

The far off stare of a fallen comrade,

As you stay by his side till his end.

No mother ever carried her infant child,

More carefully, than we do a friend.

Many have their own personal diaries,

To help keep their faculties together.

Watching hot steel crash into human flesh,

Always makes home seem far away and better.

I've become an expert at dodging, weaving and diving,

So try not to worry too much about me.

Just help your mom and stand up from the ground,

And while I'm gone be all you can be.

Sacrifice, Transformation, And Unrestricted Warfare

The Japanese hadn't lost a war since 1598

Each man carried 400 rounds of ammunition

(twice as many as an American infantryman)

With five days rations and fearless determination.

The men in the badly wrapped brown uniforms

Since their early childhood had been taught

That to die for the emperor and one's country

Was the greatest of all glories to be sought.

Moreover, the hardware backing them was awesome

As sharpshooters they were accurate up to a thousand yards and more.

Their ships were faster, their guns bigger, Their torpedoes better,

And their planes matchless in quality, aerobatics and score.

Only by sacrifice, transformation, and unrestricted warfare

Was America able to overcome and prevail.

Again America must stand firm to survive

As we face a new monster from Hell.

SOLDIER IN THE RAIN = DADS AT WAR BULLETS AND BARBWIRE= VIETNAM

SOLDIER IN THE RAIN

I'm just a soldier who stands in the rain;

My memories of home are what keep me sane.

Back home is a land of milk and honey,

Ruled by lust and love of money.

But, what can I say, when I serve her true,

For I volunteered to see this war through.

Now, that I'm here, it's hard to believe,

We're just the victims of those who deceive.

As darkness falls on the rice fields of Nam

Scared men with rifles walk the shadows of the calm.

It's thousands of miles to the steps of my church,

With its stained glass, steeples and lost souls who search.

Off in the distance I see an arc light,

Bombs being dropped on children at night.

I've seen that evil they call the "yellow rain,"

And how life withers when it's sprayed by a plane.

All of my buddies have been taken away,

No more touch football will they ever play.

Zipped in their body bags for the long trip home,

Are some of the bravest, I've ever known.

War is a hell, devised by man,

There's death in the sea, the sky and the land.

Lord, I can't help but wish I were home,

Back with my love, whom I hope is alone?

DADS AT WAR

Where would I be without you dad?

My hero of night and day

I'm so glad you love my mother,

And take time for us each day.

The last time we played baseball,

You reached for me with your hand.

I looked at you, then made a wish,

That I might be just half the man.

I love my father of this earth,

And I love my father of heaven.

It's a lot for me to love, you know,

For I'm only eleven.

Mom and I sure miss you,

Since you left to defend our flag.

When others ask, where is your dad?

I can't help but boast and brag.

BULLETS AND BARBWIRE

We awoke to the crack of rifle fire,

With mortar rounds hitting the ground near by.

The flying shrapnel was absorbed by sand bags,

Which saved lots of us who wished not to die.

The hot spent shell casings fell to the ground

As the VC charged our fortified hill.

We killed so many the stench made us sick,

While we fought to live and not for a thrill.

Barbwire, bullets and clay-mores took their toll

As red and green tracers lit up the sky.

Before long I was the last GI left,

When napalm caused my enemy to fry.

Fleeing the sound of our choppers gunfire

The enemy retreated to the caves and trees.

Then I cried, "thank you " to heaven above,

As I checked out my buddies on my knees.

Somehow I managed to survive the day

Though many I've served with names I have read

Carved in the shinny black stone of The Wall

Are my comrades of war, among the dead.

KOREA 1950

UN soldiers fought and were forced to retreat

Behind sandbags protected by barbwire hoops.

Many GI's died as they held off attacks,

By 810,000 Communist troops.

Our guys used phosphorus, flame-throwers and napalm,

For without these weapons they could not survive.

The Communist charges led by buglers,

Till the UN could start it's offensive drive.

On the battlefield of death and misery

Many froze with their hands still stuck to their guns.

While others hobbled with their boots wrapped in rags,

City boys, farmers, students, fathers and sons.

With a million and a half dead or wounded,

Both sides singed a truce before generals involved.

July 27th, 1953,

And though thousands were orphaned, nothing was solved.

WORLD WAR II

War

As war is fought it takes charge,

And events spin out of control.

The madness of men can alter the soil

Which nourishes the roots of their soul.

Many things will forever change,

Far more then wished to be.

As the wrath of war starts to destroy,

Those things we fight to keep free.

War is the greatest plague of man,

Religion, state, and sanity.

Any scourge is more preferred,

Than the one which disables humanity.

When war breaks out, boundaries change

And all who die are a token,

Of the rage that must run it's course,

Before words of peace are spoken.

TROOP SHIP

Our ship had sailed before the dawn

Surrounded by the thickest of fog,

Still ignorant of our destination

Or what was written in the captain's log.

It didn't take long for me to see

Our cruise was not for fun;

An experience of a lifetime

With nowhere for us to run.

Twenty knots per hour we cruised

As the white caps passed us by;

Ten thousand young Americans

Off to Europe to die.

A sailor told us not to worry;

Someday we'd get our mail.

Uncle Sam would make sure

No matter how far we sail.

Thirty feet deep I tried to sleep

Beneath our ship's waterline,

Just the place for claustrophobia

To enter into my mind.

My favorite vest was my May West

Which I wore all the time

Just in case of German U-boats

Or an underwater mine.

Thirty-three days we were at sea,

We crossed the equator twice.

Many years have passed since then,

Those years of sacrifice.

BRAVERY

Many brave souls lived before now,

Unwept and unknown by their face.

Lost somewhere in the distant night,

'Till a poet chronicles their grace.

True bravery is shown by performing,

Without witness, what one might be

Capable of before the world,

Without any or all to see.

How great the brave who rest in peace,

All blessings from heaven to earth.

They gave our country but their best,

Those destined to be brave from birth.

PEARL HARBOR

Sunday, December the seventh,

In the year of 1941,

While most of Hawaii still slept,

Came the planes of the Rising Sun.

Waves of bombers and fighters flew,

From the decks of the Japanese ships.

While our planes were still on the ground,

"Banzai" was spoken from their lips.

The winds of war had been blowing

Across the oceans of our earth,

Though not till Pearl had been bombed,

Did we realize what freedom's worth.

Wars are fought and won on two fronts,

At home and on the battle line.

Both are equally important,

When war consumes our heart and mind.

The attack brought us World War II,

With death, pain and separation.

All who had served were well aware

Of their sacrifice for nation.

CONFLICT

The harder the conflict we sometimes face

The far more glorious is the victory.

Tyranny like hell is tough to defeat,

When it raises its head throughout history.

War never leaves a country as it was,

When neutrality is a word disregarded.

As the murderous hands of man himself

Are to blame for all who have departed.

D DAY - THE WALL

Over two hundred rangers scaled "The Wall"

A stone cliff over one hundred feet tall.

Some of them made it all the way to the top,

While others fell and perished from their drop.

Those who climbed over, had answered God's call;

For men to stop evil once and for all.

They fought the Germans and destroyed their guns,

To save the lives of our fathers and sons.

So many years have passed since then,

When our world's future was saved by brave men.

We cannot forget the hell they went through,

Before the skies, again turned blue.

D-DAY

D-Day raised the curtain on the conflict

That fore shadowed the end of Hitler's dream.

The largest joint combat landing ever,

Though the blood from both sides flowed like a stream.

When their boats hit the sand, their ramps went down,

And all within paid a visit to hell.

They jumped out to do good for their country,

And to kill the enemy without fail.

They fought the Germans, tides, winds and the waves,

In conditions not easily foreseen.

By night the battle was in our favor,

With bravery, valor, death, and men who scream.

The corpses littered the beach for five miles,

Though heroism had carried the day,

With literally thousands dead or wounded,

Those who were left were determined to stay.

They faced great odds and chose not to protest,

And won the war that put evil to shame.

Most came home, married and raised their babies,

But those who could not we recall with pain.

MI DWAY

It was June the 4th 1942,

As I was floating in the ocean alone;

The ship I had sailed on, sank to the bottom

And I thought I would never again, see home.

The Japanese fleet had steamed in from the east

With the intentions of capturing Midway.

Though they were stopped by American war ships,

Whose guns, bombs and torpedoes planes saved the day.

All night long, I watched the fireworks of war

And on the second day we turned up the heat.

As big bombers from Hawaii dropped their loads,

On Japanese ships who soon chose to retreat.

An imperial pilot came floating close by,

Who had been chewed on by the beasts of the sea.

I couldn't help but feel passion for this is man

Who had answered his call just like me.

When it was over, I was plucked from the deep,

By men in a lifeboat just after the dawn.

For two days I had watched the battle for, Midway;

Now it's quiet and the enemy has gone.

SURVIVAL

I drifted all night and was loosing my hope

Before by the moon's light I saw dry land.

I floated over and through its reefs to the beach,

Where I quickly smoothed out my tracks in the sand.

All I had was my dagger and a canteen

And it was May 4th of 43.

Just me alone on an enemy island,

Wasn't a safe place for a sailor to be.

I felt I could kill in less than a heartbeat

If that's what it took for me to survive.

I'd already said thanks so many times,

For" God" was the reason I was alive.

Off in the dark, I herd two men's voices,

Laughing and talking in a language not mine.

Inch by inch I crept to their campsite,

Where on what they were eating, I would soon dine.

I stabbed them both and took their fish, rice and wine;

Then ran my way back to the raft by the beach.

Soon I was floating in the ocean again

And far enough out where bullets couldn't reach.

The next day I was picked up by a seaplane,

Whose crew spotted my sail from the air.

Once inside and safe, I cried like a child,

For the dead whom would forever be there.

It was hard to believe heaven let me live;

A farm boy from Kansas, in high school last year.

My girlfriend is blond and she hates it I 'm gone.

Though I'm a veteran of battle, death, and fear.

OKINAWA

Okinawa was to be our last stop

Before we invaded Japan.

The largest landing of the Pacific war,

As our soldiers ran across the sand.

At first our marines were scarcely opposed

But on the fifth day hell they found.

A solid wall of human resistance

Firing their weapons from caves in the ground.

Air power and big guns had little affect

On their cliff forts carved deep in the limestone.

It took man against man to root them out

As flying bullets pierced flesh and bone.

Kamikaze pilots crashed their planes

Knocking out transports and war ships.

As the Imperial air force struck our fleet,

Cries of fear and hate spewed from lips.

One hundred, ten thousand Japanese

By the end of the battle were killed.

Over twelve thousand Americans died,

Before, just our flag flew over the field.

BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC

After the fall of France in 1940,

The Germans soon began their own blockade,

With most their efforts in the Atlantic,

Hoping to cut Britain's flow of war trade.

With fast surface raiders like the Bismarck,

Merchant ships caught at sea, had little chance.

The German's small navy sank ship after ship,

Till the British Navy destroyed war's romance.

Shipping losses from German U-boats increased,

And the battle of the Atlantic seemed lost.

But soon America would enter the war,

To defeat freedom's enemies at all cost.

Multitudes would die and their families cry,

Before World War II would be fought to its end.

What a waste of mankind, which had lost its mind,

Though now, our enemy is our friend.

PARTING

The truest words, which portray my love,

I speak to you from within my heart.

May we always recall how we feel,

Though through conflict we're forced to part.

No one can say how long they will last,

For life is not everlasting.

Yet most hope to be blessed by love,

By he who does our casting.

As the fear of battle bites my flesh,

My thoughts of home help keep me sane.

There's no guarantee that I'll survive

But either way, I'll serve without shame.

Should the cold hands of death reach for me,

I pray my soul will awake from sleep.

To the voice of God assuring me,

That my spirit, he's chosen to keep.

So try to remember while I'm gone,

That the person I need most is you.

I'll fight like hell to stay alive

To return home to the love I knew.

P.O.W.

When you become a P.O.W.

You find you've lost your liberty and more,

The guy with the gun tells you what to do,

As you yearn for freedoms you had before.

Your will to serve helps keep you alive,

Though sometimes you wish you were dead.

Tortures far beyond any normal mind,

And there's no safety, even your bed.

Bullets, barbwire, searchlights and sharp teeth,

Keep you in a place you don't wish to be.

The food is quite awful and sometimes it moves,

And you've no choice of what you hear or see.

The lucky are released and return home,

Though in their dreams their fate is unsure.

War may be hell, but confinement is worse,

Cause afterwards you're never as you were.

GENERAL QUARTERS

General quarters, general quarters,

All hands man your battle station!

Sunday morning, December the 7th,

As war confronted our nation.

We soon found out it wasn't a drill

But instead it was war for real.

As you watch the death of friends and shipmates,

It's more anger than fear you feel.

Japanese warplanes came flying in low,

As I took aim with my gun sight.

From the deck of a ship anchored at Pearl

Damaged, though crew still eager to fight.

I saw the face of a pilot, who crashed,

Surrounded by black smoke and fire.

Some of my bullets must have found their mark.

For his death was but my desire!

Two thousand, three hundred and twenty-three killed,

In a battle less than two hours.

With the heart of our Pacific fleet gone,

Japan had flexed their naval powers.

The bombing and strafing of ships and troops

Caused our congress to declare full war.

Where many a man laid down his life

Fighting for flag, country and more.

KENNEDY= THE WAR YEARS

PT-109

After the attack on Pearl Harbor

He applied for sea duty in the war.

Where Lieutenant John F. Kennedy

Became known for his bravery and more.

In the dark hours before dawn

On August 2, of 43.

Kennedy commanded a torpedo boat

Through the blackness of night at sea.

PT 109, was on Solomon's patrol

With a 12-man crew in a plywood craft.

A Japanese destroyer plowed through the night

Ramming and cutting Kennedy's boat in half.

Two of the crew just disappeared

A third was badly burned.

Kennedy himself was thrown to the deck,

Where in pain his leadership he earned.

Some of his men had never learned to swim

As he gathered them on the bobbing bow.

The hours passed tell it seemed it would sink

So they made for an island and here's how.

He ordered those who could to swim

The others were to hang on to a beam.

Kennedy grabbed the injured sailor

And off they tread through the ocean stream.

With his teeth clenched on the burnt man's vest straps

Skipper Kennedy swam 3 miles.

5 hours later they all made it

Despite their hardships, sharks, and trials.

The next problem was how to summon up help

Without arousing the enemy all around.

After several attempts swimming to other islands

Eventually two natives in a canoe were found.

Kennedy scratch a note on a coconut

To be delivered to a base 38 miles away.

The message made it and they were saved

And their courage still lives us today.

WORLD WAR I

FLY-BOYS

World War I gave us the fly-boys

Who flew by the seat of their pants.

Many would never return from war

While others survived by chance.

Their planes were mostly canvas and wood

Gasoline, bullets, bombs and poison gas.

Every pilot carried his own pistol

Wearing leathers, scarf and goggles of glass.

Aviators had no Parachutes

To escape their burning plane.

Many were forced to jump to their death

Or self inflect a bullet to the brain.

Blimps where known as battleships of the sky

The roar of their engines gave reason for fear.

They flew so high they were hard to shoot down

Hiding above clouds till their targets drew near.

Tracer bullets for the first time were used

In the guns of airplanes to set blimps a fire.

The skies became man's highway of death

With duty and honor their driving desire.

How many Fly-boys have we lost since then

Those days of the Great War and more?

Where do we get such brave souls of chance

Who rise from the rest in the battles of war?

THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

In 1860 life was good,

Till its simpleness ceased one day.

The North wished to save the Union

While the South chose to break away.

America was torn apart

As six hundred thousand died.

Throughout four years of total war,

Women without husbands cried.

The sad fact of the Civil War

Is what was left at its end.

Too many times, men's evil acts

Destroyed both foe and friend.

The problem was, once it began,

There was no peace or compromise.

Total victory must be proclaimed

Before rage would leave men's eyes.

Destroy all that helps the enemy,

Was the cry of either side.

Anything to obtain victory,

As death on horseback did ride.

Black men dressed in old uniforms

Became the Union's reserve.

They fought and died for their freedom

And their rights they earned and deserve.

Lifestyles would forever change

For all who survived the war.

It had ended as it began,

With sadness, misery and more.

Both sides prayed to the same God,

And spoke words from the Bible.

The prayers of both were not answered,

For all involved were liable.

THE KANSAS FRONTIER

Coronado, in his search to find gold for Spain,

Was the first European on the green Kansas plane.

Explorers and traders were arriving from France.

They saw the buffalo and the Indians who danced.

At the mouth of the Kaw were campfires in the dark;

Two men by the river named Lewis and Clark.

Large numbers of Indians, forced out from the East,

Resettled to Kansas where the buffalo feast.

So, many a cowboy decided to stay,

It wasn't very long and most Indians were forced away.

When Missouri joined the Union; the slave states equaled the free.

Which way would Kansas vote, congress was anxious to see?

The Heart-Landers were bleeding; their towns were on fire;

As raiders from the slave states tried to force their desire.

The settlement of Lawrence was sacked by a mob,

In revenge came John Brown, who would murder and rob.

Kansas joined the Union as the Civil War began.

After four long years of tragedy, many women lost their man.

Cattle trails met the railroads as they pushed across the state.

Farmers planted corn and wheat as the buffalo awaited their fate.

Those frontier days have long since gone, though the sunflower is still here;

My childhood home of Kansas where the buffalo roam with the deer.

BLACK POWDER BRIDGE

A courier rider hands his papers to me;

They are instructions from Robert E. Lee.

I am advised now is the time,

To stop the troop movement on the Rock Island line.

I muster my men and they load up the boats,

We powder our pistols and darken our coats.

Traveling the currents, the sun slips from sight,

As brave men with a purpose have gathered to fight.

We capture a bridge before the moonrise,

The Yankees who are here shall soon feed the flies.

The evil of war feeds on my brain

As I light the fuse to destroy a train.

Above us a trestle of timber and tar

As we pull our oars for a willowed sandbar.

From the banks of the river; we watch it approach;

There's shadows of soldiers, in the windows of a coach.

With a burst of bright yellow and a roar in my ear,

I hear them scream as they 're falling in fear.

The river is boiling in steam, steel and stems,

Back home their families shall soon sing funeral hymns.

The one lone survivor was a red stallion stud,

I lassoed his neck, and freed him from the mud.

As I ride in his saddle beneath the stars that shine,

I pray for forgiveness and some peace of mind.

War is a lesson we re eager to learn

When man has that fever to murder and burn.

Lord, please forgive me for what I have done,

For all those I've silenced were some mother's son.

THE FEVER OF FEAR

Cannons are bursting hot metal from the ground.

Soldiers are looting and burning our town.

The fever of fear rushes through my veins,

As too many Bluecoats jump from troop trains.

Smoke from hot barrels is swirling around,

As four thousand muskets volley their sound.

All of my comrades have stopped a lead ball;

Most cry out, then stumble and fall.

Even the young lad who carried our flag,

Now he lies dead as he clings to that rag.

Wagons with the wounded trail blood on the ground,

Death and destruction are easily found.

The Generals are crying 'cause they can't stand defeat;

But it's always the soldier who dies on his feet.

Horse hooves are pounding on a bridge made of boards,

As the sunlight reflects from the blades of their swords.

Quickly I hide out in the roots of a tree,

Where the dirt has eroded and there's just room for me.

After dark I sneak out with the cover of fog,

Then float down the river, as I cling to a log.

Songs of their victory, ring out through the night,

While from the cold, muddy water, I see their firelight.

It makes me remember my old country church,

Where the preacher spoke God's word from his holy perch.

That the seed of all conflict began in a cave;

When man, like the wild wolf had to prove he was brave.

THUNDER IN THE GROUND

Cannons are bellowing from a ridge far away.

The battle lines are forming and there's little time to pray.

Musket balls are pelting like hailstones from the sky;

I'm so full of fear cause I don 't want to die.

From beyond yonder hill comes a terrifying sound,

It's the music of the buglers and there's thunder in the ground.

The fast-riding troopers have all drawn out their swords.

They 're shouting and screaming as they charge up the gorge.

It's hard to believe how many make it through;

As they're hacking and shooting at the boys dressed in blue.

Then come the soldier men who run upon their feet,

Every time I drop one, my heart skips a beat.

There's a storm on the ground made of death, dust and smoke.

My throat is so dry, I can 't help but choke.

The fury of the battle is bound to settle down,

When most of the fighters lie dead on the ground.

After dark, the stretcher-bearers are afraid to search around.

The wild hogs eat the wounded and I can 't stand the sound.

Come dawn, we dig ditches for all the brave, lifeless men.

Then quote words from our Bible praying heaven lets them in.

SLAVERY

When you chain the neck of a slave,

The other end fastens to you.

Your heart and soul become corrupt,

And all which is evil you'll do.

No government shall exist for long,

Who's people are not really free.

Though around the world there are those,

Who stay blind to how life should be.

Any who must enslave others,

Will dwell in their own living hell

After death, they'll join their master,

In that place from heaven he fell.

But till then we'll fight and resist

Making them put their chains away.

And those of us who may die first,

From heaven shall watch and pray

BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER

In the course of becoming officers

The young men of West Point bonded like brothers.

Till roomers of Civil War transformed friend to foe,

As many cadets chose to serve others.

Fifty-five of sixty major battles fought,

Were lead by graduates of the long gray line.

Yankees and Rebels ravaged one another,

For to kill and plunder were virtues of the time.

Over six hundred thousand soldiers were consumed,

Not counting multitudes of population.

Cities, farms and the countryside were laid to waste,

Before our Union was restored to a nation.

THE LITTLEST SOLDIER

Nine year old Johnny Clem who stood just four feet tall,

Ran away from Ohio to answer his country's call.

He joined up with the Union and became a drummer boy,

Soon to prove the gun he wore was far more than a toy.

Armed with a sawed-off musket, cut down to just fit him,

He shot a Rebel horseman who tried to do him in.

Awarded his sergeant's stripes and the silver medal,

His comrades offered him hot coffee from their kettle.

The newspapers of the North, gladly published his story,

Telling of the nine year old who earned his country's glory.

THE BATTLE

The moon is sky high

And perfectly round

As it highlights the beauty

Of disputed ground.

Life is a journey

Where the passage is free.

After, there's judgment,

By the living and Thee.

Tomorrow's carnage,

We'll survive if we can.

Death and dismemberment

By the hand of man.

Some will stumble

With absence of breath.

While others charge

Into the face of death.

We'll race toward the battle

And pray for the best,

Hoping somehow

We pass God's test.

BUGLES

Their red and blue, ragtag flag stood out,

Against their dust covered uniforms of gray.

Savagely we fought to kill our enemy,

As the battle raged on in the heat of the day

Volley after volley we put forth our blaze,

With thousands of led balls snapping flesh and bone.

Blistering sweat rolled down every face,

As the tunes of war by bugles were blown.

There was a clanking sound of ramrods in barrels,

As each new minieball was loaded and fired.

Some shot aimlessly into the smoke,

While others took aim at the worn and tired.

Bullets were popping like the fourth of July, S

Yet our enemy kept surging ahead.

All at once they broke and ran off in groups,

Scattering as for the forest they fled.

From behind the protection of a stacked-stone wall,

The victorious cheered or just sat starring,

At all the bodies of friend and foe

While for the wounded the surgeons were caring.

Soon the war was over and I survived,

Despite it's brutality on trampled ground.

From boy to man I was transformed,

Though, still in the night I hear its sound.

THE HINGE OF HISTORY

The hinge of history swings in all directions

As the happenings of the past are written down.

Out of all that has occurred since man's beginnings,

Less has been recorded than waits to be found.

Babylonians kept chronicles of history,

Hebrews wrote the past as a dramatic story.

Greeks had no faith in the future at all,

Believing mans repeated errors doom his glory.

Christians added a new dimension to history,

Looking forward to Christ's return to earth.

An on going drama involving man and God,

Believing all are created of equal worth.

Some have asked why must we study history;

It just encourages us to live in the past.

When we forget history we repeat its mistakes,

As the outcome of humanity is cast.

THE ALAMO

The leaves of the cottonwoods hung motionless

As outside the walls Santa Anna's horde closed in.

A small band of Texans watched and waited

Preoccupied by combat and how life would end.

The battle raged from building to building

Till the old mission's chapel was the last to fall.

Over 180 Texans died fighting to the man

Never to yield, surrender or crawl.

Six weeks later Sam Houston rallied his forces

With "Remember the Alamo" as their battle cry.

Attacking and defeating Santa Anna's army

To win independence for Texas or die.

The Spanish word for "cottonwood" is "Alamo"

The long time popular name for the mission.

Today the stout-walled old chapel still stands

Preserved as a shrine of sacrifice and tradition.

GENERAL WASHINGTON

Once in command, he boxed in the British

At Boston where he captured Dorchester Heights,

Overlooking the Brits at his mercy

As his men took aim with their cannon sites.

The British commander had but one choice,

To sail to New York to renew the fight.

Where the English had much greater forces,

Who soon chased Washington's men in full flight.

They continued on to Pennsylvania

After crossing the Hudson in retreat,

With the British forces in hot pursuit

It looked as though George was doomed to defeat.

When winter seemed to have stopped the fighting

That's when Washington crossed the Delaware.

On that Christmas night he captured Trenton

Where Hessians were surprised and unaware.

He whipped the British at Princeton,

Where in victory his men began to sing.

Washington then wintered at Morristown,

Training his troops for the combat of spring.

Washington fought bravely at Brandywine

And again at a place called Germantown,

But the British were the victorious ones

As the dead of both sides covered the ground

Americans were blessed early that spring,

When the French entered the war on their side.

Though most suffered frostbite at Valley Forge,

With the help of the French they marched in stride.

The battles raged on, in the North and South

As the King's soldiers laid waste to the land.

Washington himself was in great despair,

Pleading for aid for his weakened command.

His prayers were answered by 5000 troops,

And a French fleet who took Chesapeake Bay.

They bottled up Cornwallis at Yorktown,

Who surrendered to victory drums at play.

Yorktown was really the end of the war

Though not many quite realized that fact yet.

But the British soon grew tired of the fight

And the terms for its end were signed and set.

Washington yearned to retire at home,

But his country chose him first president.

Cheering crowds waved flags of love and support,

For they believed that "he," by God, was sent.

All Poems By

Tom Zart

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You can hear all of Tom Zart's 300 poems of love, war, faith and more 24-7 on web radio at=

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MWSA Book Review

TOM ZART THE MOST PUBLISHED POET ON THE WEB

Love, War & More Author: Tom Zart Publisher: Publish America Reviewer: Bill McDonald President of the MWSA A Poet's thoughts, on history, emotions and more Normally you pick up a poetry book and it may run about 50 to 80 pages but not the man who is called The Westport Poet."Poet Tom Zart gives the reader their moneys worth of poetry in his fine collection called Love, War & More." His book, at 267 pages, is filled with the thoughts and emotions of a dedicated poet and his vast spiritual tastes for life. His prose runs the gauntlet from relationships, battle, butterflies, and even one that ends the book called Katrina, about what happened in New Orleans. My favorite poem in his collection deals with turning 60 years old since I can relate to that experience. His poems are easy to read and more traditional in nature, as opposed to all those beat and new age writings that flourish in newer poetry books. It is readable by all mature family members and thought provoking at times. His war poetry covers everything from Pearl Harbor and D-Day to present day battles. He honors Soldiers and Sailors and our nation through many well thought out pieces of prose. There is something of interest in his collection of poetry for all readers. This is one of the most assorted and diverse collections of poetry ever assembled in one volume. For poetry lovers this will be a great book to buy. This book is given the MWSA's highest rating for a poetry book - 5 STARS!

On December 19, 2007 at 9:24am Tom Zart wrote:
THE LAST GOODBYE

I’m on my way to greet my master

And shake his hand when I die.

I’m on my way to john sweet Jesus

In his mansion beyond on high.

I’m on my way to escape man’s woes

Where the faithful rise to tell their story.

Following the path of love and compliance.

Guided by God’s magnificence and glory.

As I journey to and from all I love

It hurts to say my absolute goodbye.

I’m on my way to divine fulfillment

But for those left behind, “I cry?.

The Last Goodbye

By Tom Zart

Soldier For The Lord

On December 30, 2007 at 11:29pm Tom Zart wrote:
NEVER BE AFRAID TO BE PROUD of AMERICA

America, the abundant, the place I was born

I'll cherish till the day I die.

Where the bones of past heroes lie buried in the ground

Who loved her the same as I.

Her mountains are so tall they reach for the sky;

With prairies where the green grasses grow.

There's billions of trees where wild birds nest

With creatures that flourish below.

That blue gold called water with which we are blessed

As raindrops or crystallized snow;

Changes to rivers and fresh water lakes

While the winds of our seasons blow.

There's the haunt of a whistle from a lonely freight train

Racing on ribbons of steel

With the harvest of farms and from the factories

Balanced in a box on a wheel.

Some cities have buildings a hundred stories tall,

Structures of concrete, glass and steel.

A statue in a harbor, a present from France,

Describes how, inside, we feel.

That flag on the moon with red and white stripes

Proves America’s dreams come true.

A country of heroes who line up to protect

The past, the present and the few.

We’ll defeat terrorism as it should be fought

Never letting Satan’s horde chase us to our door.

Safeguarding our borders and system of life

As our forefathers sacrificed before.

Never be afraid to be proud of America

And march with the brave, faithful and just.

Refusing to summit to the will of our enemies

Standing firm to preserve what we trust.

By Tom Zart

On March 23, 2008 at 10:57pm Tom Zart wrote:
THE HORNETS of HELL

The hornets of hell swarm from their nest

Overwhelming all the victims they can.

To sting as many souls as possible

In their destruction of the glory of man.

They murder, rob, rape and plunder

While provoking the meek to submit.

They lie, deceive and mislead

And depend on the world to forget.

Eager to enhance their numbers

They are the cheerleaders of disgrace.

Their agendas of sin must be stopped

For the betterment of each race.

Endless is God’s test of time

To measure man’s spiritual worth

Unwholesome deeds tempt us all

Festering in the repugnance of earth.

The hornets of hell are on the hunt

In all directions by day or night.

The Armor of God shields man’s soul

And gives us our resolve to fight.

The champions of heaven in rapture await

To see who will stumble and fall.

They watch us struggle, in our world of woe

As they pray we will heed, God’s call.

Fools declare we must hide from view

And leave the hornets of hell alone

But when we ignore the liabilities of life

The failings of man become, our own.

By Tom Zart

On August 26, 2008 at 7:18pm hooka wrote:
This is my first time visiting your blog and i must say i like it a lot.

Your post was an educationa read.

I will surely check back here more often!

hooka

On March 13, 2009 at 7:56pm Conservative Poet Tom Zart's = JEALOUSY RESENTMENT AND FEAR wrote:

JEALOUSY RESENTMENT AND FEAR

Through the power of verse, trust and faith

God’s poets awaken the multitude.

Preaching to the lost the grace of God

Driven by promise, commitment and attitude.

The shipmates of Satan have their heroes too

Tempting man’s weakness within.

Too many relationships are torn apart

By the stupidity of jealousy and sin.

Samson was jealous and lost his freedom

David lost his honor, principle and grace.

Cleopatra lost her life and kingdom

Anthony died in anguish and disgrace.

The fear of jealousy shadows man’s trust

Casting doubt and uncertainty in life.

Staying tender, loving and unproblematic

Strengthens the bonds between a husband and wife.

When visions of mistrust occupy our mind

And the whispers of Satan are near.

Pray for deliverance from ungodly acts,

Jealousy, resentment and fear.

By Conservative Poet

Tom Zart

Most Published Poet

On The Web

TOM ZART’S RADIO POEMS

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of love, war, faith and more 24-7 on web radio at

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On March 29, 2009 at 8:02am Mitzi wrote:
Greeting. The male is a domestic animal which, if treated with firmness, can be trained to do most things.

I am from Arab and , too, and now am writing in English, give true I wrote the following sentence: "Since the start of commercial flights, oag has been at the heart of the airline industry."

With best wishes :D, Mitzi.

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After studying Classics at Dartmouth, Nathaniel Fick served as a Marine Corps infantry officer in Afghanistan and Iraq. His combat memoir, One Bullet Away, was a New York Times bestseller, and was named one of the Best Books of 2005 by The Washington Post.

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