Memorial Day

By Gregory Orr b. 1947 Gregory Orr
1
After our march from the Hudson to the top
of Cemetery Hill, we Boy Scouts proudly endured
the sermons and hot sun while Girl Scouts
lolled among graves in the maple shade.
When members of the veterans’ honor guard
aimed their bone-white rifles skyward and fired,
I glimpsed beneath one metal helmet
the salmon-pink flesh of Mr. Webber’s nose,
restored after shrapnel tore it.



         2
Friends who sat near me in school died in Asia,
now lie here under new stones that small flags flap
beside.
          It’s fifth-grade recess: war stories.
Mr. Webber stands before us and plucks
his glass eye from its socket, holds it high
between finger and thumb. The girls giggle
and scream; the awed boys gape. The fancy pocket watch
he looted from a shop in Germany
ticks on its chain.

Gregory Orr, “Memorial Day” from The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems (2002: Copper Canyon Press, 2002). www.coppercanyonpress.org

Source: The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2002)

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Poet Gregory Orr b. 1947

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects War & Conflict, Heroes & Patriotism, Social Commentaries

Holidays Memorial Day

 Gregory  Orr

Biography

The author of more than 10 collections of poetry and several volumes of essays, criticism, and memoir, Gregory Orr is a master of the short, personal lyric. His poetry has been widely anthologized and translated into at least 10 languages. Observes critic Hank Lazer, “From Burning the Empty Nests (1973) to the present, Orr gradually developed the ability to fuse his incredible skill at visual precision—the signature of his . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, Heroes & Patriotism, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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