Memorial Day, Every Day

I’ve marched out in a driving rain.
I’ve knelt on bloodied fields in pain.
I’ve fought through mud up to my waist,
and I’ll never forget its taste.
My mind still calculates the cost,
calls nightly roll of those we lost,
and sends them to me as I sleep.

There’s nothing I can do to keep
those faces from their nightly show,
but there’s a certain truth I know:
that were my nighttime comrades gone,
I’d be bereft that they’d moved on
and left me here alone to face
a world that’s grown a stranger place,
that rarely slows its beat to see
this relic curiosity.

– – – – Note – – – –

On Memorial Day weekend 2006, I was watching shows on the History Channel. On one of them, a veteran of WWII in the Pacific theater of operations described how he constantly saw the faces of his friends who died in the battles. He said he used to wish they’d leave him alone, but that now they were his only companions and he didn’t know what he’d do without them. The way he said it struck me; plain words clearly coming straight from his soul. His pain, longing, and sense of loss stayed with me, and resulted in what you see here. This is his story, but it is dedicated to all who have served.

6 comments

  1. Hi Michael

    and I’ll never forget its taste.
    My mind still calculates the cost,
    calls nightly roll of those we lost,
    and sends them to me as I sleep.

    I think you capture his story and soul with beautiful and empathetic intensity. I can really feel those above lines, what he has experienced and how it painfully haunts. him. The title is very apt and this is something that truly resonates. I also think it becomes very effective because you have chosen to speak this narrative in the first person. Thank you for sharing this one, it touches deeply.

    My Best
    Wendy

    P.S. Good to see you back, hope everything has stabilized with you and your family.

    Like

  2. Thank you Wendy. Yes, to tell this man’s deeply personal experience the use of first-person was the only choice. It wouldn’t have worked at all told any other way.

    My mom is somewhat weaker and tires more easily, but overall she feels better than she had for the previous 2 to 3 weeks.

    Like

  3. Michael,

    You tell his story so beautifully and with a real understanding.
    This poem speaks for all the forgotten Vets and makes me ask
    “How can we?” A huge thumbs up!!

    Like

  4. Thank you Sarah. Once in a while, I will get through writing a piece and when I look at it on the page it simply doesn’t feel like mine. Perhaps you know what I mean? It feels as though someone else spoke, and I simply recorded their words. This poem felt like that for me.

    Like

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