I had a hard time finding a post for today. I looked through public domain poems trying to find one that was appropriate, one that celebrates the soldier and laments the war. For that’s how I feel. I hate war. But I appreciate the men and women who have fought and continue to fight in our wars. I appreciate their sacrifices and those of their families.
Then I remembered I had a war poem, one I hadn’t shared before because I was embarrassed by the publication of it. It was my first published poem and I celebrated when I heard it was accepted but I was disappointed when I received the American Poetry Anthology (Volume 1, Number 2), edited by John Frost.
It was in the early 1980s and I had responded to one of those come-on ads in the back of Parade magazine. I submitted a persona poem. It was accepted.
Of course my poem was accepted; I don’t imagine any weren’t accepted. The book is over seven hundred pages, with as many as ten poems per page. The index of contributors is 25 pages long. My poem is on page 659.
I learned my lesson. I put the big book away and didn’t mention it. Until today when I share the poem with you.
With gratitude to all those who have served and continue to serve; peace, love, solace
Sizzling August has closed over us again.
And, yes, he’s sobbing in the night.
His top lip, quivering, is blistered with sweat,
while shaky hands clutch at limp sheets.
Viet Nam arrives with August’s humidity.
Steaming jungles invade our city bungalow.
I witness fear and repulsion in flashes.
It’s not hot rods dragging,
the 3:45 quaking down the tracks, or
Angeline clacking her bottle against the crib slats.
He speaks war only in damp sleep,
When weather triggers memories,
When sparks of moments ignite.
He tosses, moans, mumbles dry-throated pleas.
I hope the fall will reach us soon.
© Ellen Wade Beals, 1982