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In a long narrow room, at the headquarters of Army’s Central Identification Laboratory at Hickam Air Force Base, a technician adjusts the height of a digital camera for a full-lens image of a small notepad.


On the worktable are a few shallow boxes containing artifacts found in the latest Vietnamese crash-site recovery effort: a navigator’s wristwatch with no band; two dog tags; a well-worn, red-handled, hook blade knife; and a notepad in a plastic tobacco pouch.


Working quickly, the young soldier photographs each faded and water-smeared page, all but the last illegible:




The glitter of stars offers welcome movement

in silent wind-still nights.

Closer things remain unchanged:

Planets, the moon, a celestial room waiting.

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There have been more poets with combat experience than most people realize. One of my favorites is Georg Trakl. He wrote in German, so I've only read James Wright's translations of his works. Here's an example of one of his war poems:




At evening the woods of autumn are full of the sound

Of the weapons of death, golden fields

And blue lakes, over which the darkening sun

Rolls down; night gathers in

Dying recruits, the animal cries

Of their burst mouths.

Yet a red cloud, in which a furious god,

The spilled blood itself, has its home, silently

Gathers, a moonlike coolness in the willow bottoms;

All the roads spread out into the black mold.

Under the gold branches of the night and stars

The sister’s shadow falters through the diminishing


To greet the ghosts of the heroes, bleeding heads;

And from the reeds the sound of the dark flutes of

autumn rises.

O prouder grief! you bronze altars,

The hot flame of the spirit is fed today by a more

monstrous pain,

The unborn grandchildren.


[More of Wright's TRAKL translations.]


Of course, other well known "war" poems like Rupert Brooke's "The Soldier" come to mind also.


Now your work is haibun-like with its mix of prose and poem. This one's polished, Franklin. Very much to my liking.



Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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