Archive for the ‘War’ Category

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Global Winds

August 13, 2006

7/11/1986

Here I sit on a rolling hill
as the global winds rush past me,
with an eagle’s view and an iron will
and the news that will not last me,
and I see the sound and I hear the sight
of a world that is in trouble,
for a single bomb and a nuclear night
will leave this world in rubble.


Ahhh… for the days when all a teenager need worry about was the end of the world in some kind of nuclear conflagration. So, wait, has anything really changed?

Not my best poetic effort by far (I like the first four lines much better than the last four), but not bad for a 16 year old.

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The Bird, the Student and the Teacher

August 10, 2006

She holds it in her hand,
the tiny bird, its heart
fluttering, snatched from the nest
unsuspecting, its vital
role on this clear spring day.

He sits, lotus position,
hands in an open pose
folding in on himself,
like an onion, layer
on layer, she approaches.

“Teacher,” she says, “A lesson
I have for you. Wonder
what it is I carry
in my hands?” She pauses
knowing she has stumped him.

The Master pauses, smiles
knowing on his shoulders
lies the weight of the world.
She will crush the bird, kill
it if he says it lives

but open her hands, free
the bird if he answers
that it is dead there, so
he gives her the answer
that still haunts me today

“You, my child, are the
master of your own future.
You have life and death in
your hands, choose wisely, child.”
She opens her hands, ashamed.

Have I chosen wisely
Teacher? Have I chosen life
when I had the power
to wound small creatures who
looked to me for safety?

Am I the student or
the teacher now? Can I
understand his smile
in the face of the bird’s death?
His faith and utter

certainty that she would
choose the wiser path, and
not abandon life. Can
anyone know what it was
to be the bird, praying

hoping, calling for life,
your heart fluttering as
your world, cavalierly,
decided your fate? We
are our own architects,

we write with footprints on
the shores of ancient seas,
but still we don’t recall
the ancient lesson, help us
remember to choose life.


Some of you may recognize this legend as one told of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the Master of God’s Great Name, a Chassidic Rabbi who was a great teacher and a mystic. I have taken some liberties with the story, but the fundamental message is the same. In this crazy time, why don’t we learn our lessons from the past? We do hold the power of life and death in our hands and the choices we make daily show our impact. I continue to pray for peace.

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More cinquains

August 5, 2006

Waking
after his rest
the grizzly bear stretches
sniffs the air for honey and writes
new poems.


The coarse
bristles; his beard
itched me when I kissed him,
I could smell the scotch on his breath:
Father.

Grenades
would be so much
easier to handle
if they came with pins that didn’t
pull out.

Pull out
all of the stops!!
It’s my birthday today
(really yesterday but I’m still
part’ing)!

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I Was There

August 3, 2006

I was there
the night they appeared
awesome in their splendor,
robed in their dark vibrant hues
of sky blue, lightening yellow,
sunrise orange and red,
pale moon white,
they split the heavens
obliterating the firmament.

These wholly profane creatures
who spat fire from their mouths:
scorching the earth with their breath,
lapping up blood and death
with their forked tongues
casually watching us flee
like terrified ants
from their stinging eyes.

I was there
the night the fireballs arrived
and the bombs burst scattering
shrapnel and bullets into the city streets
with their indiscriminate fury.

Whole cities turned to rubble
by more than the blasts and explosions
but by the terror of the flame
I stood frozen feeling the ice in my blood
while the stars fell around me
white shining lances of fire.

I was there
and I am still here
despite the scars
and the battle fatigue
and the weary hesitance

I don’t want to bear witness
to another tragedy
I don’t want to watch
my comrades die and my country destroyed

but something deep within me
spurns me onward, ever onward
until the day I finally witness
the breaking of the dragons’ spine.


I just finished the Dragonlance Chronicles, my first books of any of the Dragonlance series. I loved them, all 1300 pages. What a great summer reading escape. If only it were so easy to escape what’s happening in the Middle East.This poem is for Berem and for my friends in Israel and Lebanon. You can find good and evil in every dragon, and prejudice on every side. The real challenge is to find a place to meet in the middle.

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Weep, Like a Cedar in Lebanon

August 1, 2006

Revision 8/5/2006

My limbs droop,
violent storms have
raked my branches,
all the wind and fury
strips the bark from my back.

I still stand
rooted in the soil of Lebanon,
the once fruitful earth
turning to ash.

Once I was as lush as a date palm,
tall I stood: proud, righteous, strong.

The coming of night was sudden;
No time was given to seed, to birth.

And so I stand, weeping,
crying for my lost children,
the Sunni, the Shi’ite, the Christian, the Jew,
as I witness my roots failing –
my branches breaking –
my scorched needles wilting –
and my trunk rotting.

I weep, a cedar in Lebanon,
and pray for the coming of spring.

Revision 8/2/2006

My limbs droop,
angry storms have
robbed my branches,
all the wind and fury
strips the bark from my back.

I still stand
rooted in the soil of Lebanon,
the once fruitful earth
turning to ash.

Once I was as lush as a date palm,
tall I stood: proud, righteous, strong.

The coming of this dark night was sudden;
No time was given to seed, to birth.

And so I stand, weeping,
crying for my lost children,
the Sunni, the Shi’ite, the Christian, the Jew,
as I witness my roots failing –
my branches breaking –
my green needles wilting –
and my trunk rotting.

I weep, like a cedar in Lebanon,
and pray for the coming of spring.

Original – 8/1/2006

My leaves droop,
angry storms have taken all the
fruit from my branches,
all the wind and fury
strips the bark from my back.

I still stand
rooted in the soil of Lebanon,
the once vibrant earth
turning to ash.

Once I was as lush as a date palm,
tall I stood: proud, righteous, strong.

But the early breezes beguiled me,
I thought I could withstand the angry wind,
the early howl of winter’s killing freeze
in my land of endless summer.

The coming of this dark night was sudden,
I had no time to seed, to flower, to birth.

And so I stand, weeping,
crying for my lost children,
the Sunni, the Shi’ite, the Christian, the Jew,
as I witness my roots failing –
the earth rejecting them –
my branches breaking –
my leaves wilting –
and my trunk rotting.

I weep, like a cedar in Lebanon,
as I pray for the coming of spring.

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I Breathe and So I Manage to Survive (de/composed from “I Am Alive”)

November 17, 2005

A while back I posted a poem of mine called “I Am Alive”. I also posted a review of a book called “De/Compositions: 101 Good Poems Gone Wrong” in which the author takes poems and rewrites them to illustrate how the original poem works. I have challenged folks at Poetisphere to do the same with their work by taking a poem of their own and “de/composing” it.

Here is “I Am Alive” again, a poem written after 9/11. I will present the original and then “de/compose” it by rephrasing it with meter and rhyme to show how this poem feeds on its jagged rhythm and measure:

I Am Alive

12/16/2001

I am alive
I soar with the spirits of a new generation
My voice rises from the ashes of my former self
And I sing a new song.

I am not the man I once was.
Then — I hid behind the insecurities of my former self
Now — my spine is broken and I see clearly.

I have lost much
Some may say that in losing I have gained,
Yet I know that the gain comes, not in having survived the loss, but in spite of it.

I am cleaner, purer,
I am burned beyond all recognition, charred, smoldering,
Yet all who see me call me beautiful.

I still struggle for meaning,
Every day I journey through all of the hidden piles of rubble and call out names.
And wonder why.

And here is my new version:

I Breathe and So I Manage to Survive (de/composed)

I breathe and so I manage to survive
while soaring with the spirits of this time
I sing, my voice is ashes, “I’m Alive!”
My body left beneath me, I remind

myself that I am not the man I was
I used my false security to hide.
My spine is broken, can I seek to judge
the terrorists who taught me how to glide?

You see I have lost much this horrid day
but I might argue that I’ve gained as much.
The gain, it comes not from my loss, I say,
but rather from the strength it takes to touch

my cleaner, purer, burned and charred remains,
some call them beautiful, but I still know
I will seek out the echos from the planes
and wonder why, no answering “Hello.”

So what do you think? Which one reads better? Why? Do you agree with me that the 1st one with its more jagged edge and lack of forced meter and rhyme allows for a more immediate response? Or does the second one build for you? What about word choice? Images? Does the more explicit 2nd version speak more than the more suggestive first?

And now it is your turn. Take a poem of your own, or take a poem of someone else’s (maybe another Poetisphere poet, or maybe a classic verse you want to try your hand at) and “de/Compose” it by rewriting it to point out the original’s beauty. Post the results here or at your blog…

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WMD Haiku

November 5, 2005

Red flowers trampled
under the soldier’s rough boot . . .
casualty of war.

————

Night lightening sizzles
the thunder cannons booming. . .
oil fields burn.

————

Field mice skitter,
the lion is on the prowl . . .
The U.S. invades.

————

Folding white linen,
Bush sits down to his meal . . .
tuna in oil.


These haiku are inspired by the new “WMD Haiku” blog. Check it out and create your own.

UPDATE — 11/17/05 The WMD Haiku site has been taken down. Feel free, however, to post your poetry here on this theme!