Poems and Poetry

anti-war poems

Eating History | A Poem by J.K. Durick

History 101 filled in the blanks, simpled us
a true or false, cooked up an essay or two

passed us whole platefuls, made it palatable,
tasty even, even those embarrassing wars

and bombs cooked up just right, spiced up,
mellowed down, adjusted to explain away

the aftertaste of body counts, of stalemates,
of losses, of collective guilt, platefuls, all

we could eat buffets of presidents and their
victories, of inedibles made edible, of years

we never get back, of time warmed, micro-
waved, left over leftovers, like foodies, even

back then, we prized what was on our plate,
ate it all, never uncomfortably full of it all.

Omaha Beach June 2006 | A Poem by Roy Pullam

The tides have taken the beaches back
Lonely pillboxes on the hill
Crosses and memorials
Beyond the rise
Bear witness
To that Omaha beach day
The silence of the morning
The whisper of the tide
The bark of the gulls
Interrupting the reverence
Of the June morning
In the distance
Children wade the surf
Their eyes directed down
To catch the sight
Of aquatic life
How somehow I expected
A freeze frame
The gravity of the carnage
Too strong for change
But life goes on
The old man
Bent on his cane
Looking across the horizon
As if to see once again
Comrades at arms
The boys following
The ebb of the water
With the events
So far back in history
That it has no meaning
Life goes on
With the old man
Stranded on an island
Of sad memories

Grades, Keeping 2-S | A Poem by J.K. Durick

I remember when grades were posted
on the wall outside the dean’s office

sometimes typed up, others filled in ink
a bit hard to read, always hard to take

just a letter up by our initials or number
alphabetical order was easy to figure out

we knew how we all did, comparison was
built into it, an easy way to measure us

nothing inflated, nothing debated, roll of
the dice, had to roll with the punches

too often we’d limp away, some shaken, in
the late sixties, we still had ‘Nam going on

grades kept us safe or shook us lose, kept us
around, watching a war, fighting off boredom

grades waited outside the dean’s office, land mines
firefights, we learned the words, fearing our turn.

Patriotism | A Poem by Stan Morrison

Herringbone Harry never wanted to carry a gun, not even a toy one, not even for fun. Harry thought these things could hurt. Better run for cover, run home and tell my mother. Forget about “A Soldier’s Story,” and “Paths to Glory.” “Johnny Got His Gun” is the tale for everyone to learn.

The sergeant said, “Take this gun and fire it on anyone on the MGM lot for practice. Here are our orders, read’em. You’re headed for “Iraqi Freedom.” Rumsfeld anointing oil. Let the tanks run over the cradle of civilization, down by the Euphrates. Fighting terrrrrzm, making the world safe for Hell Burton.

Harry’s gig was a total drag. Harry’s gone home in a body bag. The West Point choir sang a poignant hymn, everyone’s spouting tears or opinions. The television crew is grateful for their safe jobs. Oxymorons invade the senses: holy crusade anti-terrorist offensives mission accomplished.

Not responsible for vehicles parked overnight. Not responsible for damage during shipping. Not responsible for items lost or stolen. Not responsible for clothes left over 30 days. Not responsible for what happened to Harry. Not responsible for anything we ever do or say. Amen.