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Poetry Magnum Opus


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  1. IMG_0059(1).jpgOutside the VA Clinic

    Mostly men in somber colors
    cluster along the covered walkway,
    sitting or standing near the white
    metal benches that line one side
    of the cement VA Building.

    The absence of cigarette smoke
    drifting from the green "smoking area"
    allows the scent of roses
    that grow groomed on the other side
    to dominate the Spring air.

    There is a cacophony of laughter,
    a cough and bass and tenor voices
    that drawl in conversation.

    A jacketed, sad-eyed PTSD Dog
    hugs the leg of his young master
    whose hand absently strokes a silky ear.

    Bob sits a little taller in his chair,
    sporting his Korean War cap,
    as I wheel him to the entry door
    and a Viet Nam vet, opens it for us.

    The savory, sweet taste of camaraderie
    is extended to each newcomer
    in a nod, a hand, or a word.
    Brothers born of war.
                       ~~Judi Van Gorder


    May is National Military Month and will end with Memorial Day, honoring our fallen soldiers.    The photo above is of two brothers, my Uncles, an infantry man and a fighter pilot, with a broken neck from being shot down, having come home from World War II.  Both brothers lived to the age of 95. Images of proud military men and women, dressed in uniform spark pride in me even when I don't know who they are.  The honor and glory inspired by the defense of one's national flag is a theme of millions of poems and stories from the beginning of literature in almost every culture.    Of course we know that the honor and glory of military prowess doesn't shine as brightly in the foxhole, from under an overturned Humvie or from a POW camp.   But the thing that seems to thread through it all, is the bond these military men and women form with each other.  We can honor our military with praise and thanks, we can also honor our military by recognizing the sacrifice, pain and horror of war and doing our utmost to promote peace.


    Flanders Fields

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
         That mark our place; and in the sky
         The larks, still bravely singing, fly
         Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
         Loved and were loved, and now we lie,                                 
             In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
         The torch; be yours to hold it high.
         If ye break faith with us who die   
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
             In Flanders fields.
            ~~~John Mc Crae













    Dulce et Decorum est

    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,                     
    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
    Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

    Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
    And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
    Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

    In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

    If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.
                               ~~~ Wilfred Owen


    Latin phrase is from the Roman poet Horace:
    “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”

    Honor Our Military

    Let's honor our military,
    The men and women who serve,
    Whose dedication to our country
    Does not falter, halt or swerve.

    Let's respect them for their courage;
    They're ready to do what's right
    To keep America safe,
    So we can sleep better at night.

    Let's support and defend our soldiers,
    Whose hardships are brutal and cruel,
    Whose discipline we can't imagine,
    Who follow each order and rule.

       Here's to those who choose to be warriors
    And their helpers good and true;
    They're fighting for American values;
    They're fighting for me and you.
    ~~Joanna Fuchs

    If you have a military story to tell, I would love to read it. Happy writing. ~~ Judi

  2. General Discussion Blog

    Latest Entry

    By YarnSpinner,

    A short spell between carrying out necessities brought on by illness here at home. The future is still a blur, however it does not seem to be getting worse. You might say it's like watching sand flow in a damaged hour glass. The grains of time will be deterred from passing through in a steady stream. Every now and then one grain plugs it up. That's when you have to wait to see what, when, where, and how soon the natural flow of life will continue once more. The stepping stones of life become a bit less stable as the years pass by.

    Reference to my poem SNOW STORM and the recording that was made for me. It has been 3 years now, and the recording studio that made the recording is holding out for more dollars.. to proceed. I have taken the liberty to send it to another recording studio to see what they think, and how much they hold out for further production.

    I am going to leave again.. my physical presence is now needed once more. My days are no longer planned... they become a happening.

    Bless all of you until I get another fleeting moment. R. G. Jerore (YarnSpinner)




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