Along muddy roadways they slowly stumbled
family groups or those alone, postures humbled
children's aching hunger starved Future's hope
dreadful fears felt within - youth could not cope.

Silent women to whom their small hands clung
life's hopes firstly promised, too quickly wrung
savaged war denied future's hopeful years
fearful ignorance wept - with anguished tears.

Youthful hopes lay shattered, cold hate denied
peaceful times, ravaged war will not provide
faith confused by church leader's silent tongue
Nation's pride wasted - former honors won.

Ancient creeds first taught, formed in early years
gave small comfort to cope with present fears
old rules and beliefs long held true
now re-questioned - Life rethought anew.

Utterly abandoned, confused their inward soul
promised futures seemed a lost and forgotten goal.

What atonement could appease its suffered song
to quell or erase such a vilelish wrong
human history still records, conflicts never cease
ravaged by that beastal violence - wars unlease.

 Frightening scenes once saw, where war spoiled on
by now most lie dead, their dreadful anguish gone
young hopes raped by treason, love's warmth denied
visions yet haunt my dreams - with eyes undried.
May 18, 1996 - completed D-Day, 1998

Perhaps twenty years ago, meeting took place
when Sunday took my needed walk, slow of pace
blent Natureís calm with early churchen liturgy
both proclaimed with prayer - as double energy.

Coming back, met a friend with need to talk some more
again discuss those former days, a former war
haunted by long-held fears, mistaken orders bid
again spoke of such - shrive what anguish hid.

Once on patrol, as sergeant in the lead
his squad silently stalked through open wood
came on a clearing, tensions highly keyed
though appeared safe, at fieldís edge - long stood.

Was then one of his men yelled - Kraut
with gun raised he spun to look about
then saw a single German soldier
one hand held high - above his shoulder.

Keyed up for quick response, aimed and fired
foe surged backwards, dying where he fell
all hunkered down, scared, wary - tensely wired
within that silence - Death cast its spell.

When all seemed safe, his runners widely circled 'round
all-clear given, again slowly moved forward
when soldier turned over, but a boy's face was found
one hand still gripped an apple - from nearby orchard.

Blue-eyed German boy, blond hair yet recalled
his rifle still slung upon his back
fates and sounds, for thirty years felt appalled
my friendís angry demeanor - went slack.

Soldier just a lad, must have seen fit
give himself up - or newly frightened
his youth-time ceased when that bullet hit
would take years for grief's cure - til rightened.

My friend oftsprings up at night
heart racing, eyes wide with fright
guilt unransomed by a reason, felt like treason
thirty years still replays - fears of warring's season.

Forever must deal with a quasi-guilt of killing
shedding blood of one unknown, for t'was one's enemy
after-years still attempt to forgive, his soul most willing
perhaps Time would cure, yet in the end - no clemency.

Still fearing those mares of the night
wondering of that young boyís plight
nightly dreams, again to remember
one hand held up high - in surrender.
December 20, 1998

Seems so long ago, far away - almost a dream
yet for some unwanted reason, came back to scream
a tragic yet tender twinned-event, once took place in France
an occurrence blent wastes of war - with odd touch of a trance.

Met tight resistance within small hamlet near St Remy
after previous shellings, felt we would simply walk through
how wrong we'd been, for every house seemed to hold a Jerry
no more than twenty houses, so was close and hot - scary too.

Soon learned would give them the rout, yet even then a few
kept up their firing, til down to final house - three Jerries held-up
then Sarge sent singing-Mike with his Browning, then we knew
with Mike and his automatic - those Krauts had drank their last cup.

I sent with him, ending up in basement facing just across
there Mike waited, his reason to know of just where those now three stood
two were just inside that door against front wall, third still a loss
we whiled, then third seen in that upper window - be first Mike would!

Still he held tight and silent, sensed Time wearing almost to mere crawl
I jumped two feet when without warning, Mike took upper window first
then in a thrice nailed those other two, took them both through front wall
ran upstairs, in case might be another - giving a sudden burst.

We tarried - nothing seen, then dashed a-run across the road
held against outside wall, quickly firing through front door
thereafter checked out each room, our guns held in ready-mode
three Jerries dead - but were two more upon that floor.

In upper chamber, frightened mother held her infant son
perhaps to keep it quiet, taken to nursing him then
both had died instantly, her head gone - baby in the lung
happened when Mike took soldier in that upper room, was when....

I went to window, signaled all-clear to Sarge
had to tear Mike from his catatonic stare
finally got him give it up, his eyes held large
as we spoke - heard him but softly swear.

Orders given, stay in place til dawn - further orders then.
That afternoon rested-up, later - towns-people found gathered there
though none of us knew French, wine cheese shared with our men
within that church, seemed everyone came - celebrate with song and prayer.

Time wore on til their joy worn down, again to know of pain
then singing Mike, a perfect tenor - finally took the floor
with his angelic voice of perfect pitch, held every ear to strain
sang with such beauty acappela - all deeply moved to their core.

So moved did Mike become with their mood, tears streamed down his cheeks
yet his songs and singing kept going, in spite of painful drain
among saddened women-folk, their faces also showing streaks
such that power of the moment, Mikeís voice - midst warís harsh strain.

Singing as strolled about, to eye-hold someone with his zeal
was then he began singing that soft flow of Brahmís Lullaby
not one eye held back their tears, was then Mike seen to kneel
beside a mother nursing her baby - so might pacify.

It was there Mike sang his best, heart-sore to shrive - with no alibi
recalling what had happened earlier, though would take years to nullify
in the end would cure, since was unintended - no guilt to purify.

Mike sang that cradle-song until last note finally fell
with hand extended, tenderly with his thumb - out-signed a cross
upon nursing motherís forehead - her sleeping babe as well
for me, said he had now forgiven himself - with that blessingís gloss.

Was two days later, heard singing Mike had lost his life
I'd been hit in calf previous day by a sniper
I was lucky, but then thought Mike was too - out of warís strife
had stepped on two mines at once - not enough to fill a diaper.

Whenever should hear Brahmís Cradle-Song played, sung or hummed
those old spooks of haunting war begin to wear me grim
soon recalling of Tenor-Mike - and his tendered thumb
knowing amidst all dross are found, grace and men - like him.
February 17, 1999

What this fateful historied date still brings to mind
sixty years ago, out-altered all for mankind
three-score years, now apprise those changes after-made
huge step Culture-taken - since that portended raid.

One nation invades another, their pretext pretended
forever after world stood different, long offended
when one country sought to take on entire world
shameful hates dishonored - Teutonic flags unfurled.

Pre-set futures to run on greed's wanton fuel
honor shamed by powers, Life a challenged duel
individuals set aside, only Governments rule
people merely numbers, harshly enslaved by tyrants cruel.

Not will of the people, but self-price of Power
kindness and justice crushed - Century's darkest hour.

Greed became their visioned vanguard, Truth relegated but to science
til monied powers owned run of law, with Governments in compliance
yet worth of human kindness still reflects a sacred belief
those with a trusting faith, ever hopeful - might find some relief.

After two-thousand years, wheat still overtaken by foreign tares
a harvest over-run by weeds, too few seen to care - no one shares.

Yet told must suffer longly, even death - letting both grow together
admonished by wisdom of one Man, told by such - all would do better
til in the end after death, acclaimed adjustments re-settled
although for many, perhaps most have found their lives - foul-fettled.

A memoried day for me, a turning-point when soldiers crossed a line
foreshadowed future years, wherein more lines were crossed or re-drawn
always a mistake upon the land, with one's faith or within the mind
draw a line to keep others out, if crossed - wars quickly brought on.

A magic each one tries, so easily done - fear-fashioned to protect one's self
exclude what unliked nor believed, putting ideas or people on the shelf
but in the end found childish, simplistic - barbaric in their extreme.
Frost had it right, God with a circle drew all in - Is all this but a dream?
September 1, 1999

Still remember man quietly fishing despite sounds of war
no others seen about, just sitting there - Time but keeping score
mute as stone, though distant warring sounds heard beyond
watching him at lakeside's edge - helped me not despond.

As eve drew on, dark shadows allowed me reconnaissance
when I left, he'd caught five fish with his patient persistence.

Scene from long past in no-mans land, seemed awkwardly out of place
like Time ceased for several hours, an interlude of needed grace
quiet calm felt midst nearing turmoil, for too soon war would attend
til wondered of wars, does God allow or just wait - while we but pretend.
October 20, 1999

There to stand as she always stood, washing those breakfast dishes by
triple-duty daily done, time to wonder of - or dreaming why
hair held with loose bun, printed dress hemmed below the knees
short-sleeved, burning August extra hot - with high degrees.

Beyond window, across flat Kansas fields - that mirage of heat
shimmered, distorting images seen - garbled truth as if to cheat
from sightings observed she wondered, would have to wait for it to near
til emerged from filmy fuzz, only then fully know - when seen clear.

Watched its dusty tail spewing along main road
speed guessed as quite rapid, so must be going past
dishes daily washed, far less than their former load
when four sons, three daughters held family - fully cast.

Was skillet always kept til last, causing her to squint
with reddened hands scoured it, a daily dreaded stint
then looking up, saw dust-trail drawing down their lane
probably Ellen, their weekly chat - at times a bane!

Hands astir on automatic, saw car a different hue
as came near, white star on its door - her fears began to brew
hands stopped, fading hope seen in her eyes - unknowing she knew
dear God, please if at all possible - let this not be true!

Stoic-still she stood, all sound tuned out - only sight held worth
doors opened, two in khaki got out - remembered each birth
hopes hovered painfully, within - almost knew for sure
when from rear car door, dressed in blacks - out stepped Father Muir.

With prayer on her lips, dried her hands - opened screen-door wide
like them, waited in mute silence - full certain she was right
walking slow no one spoke, she stepped to porch wait outside
as Father took those steps, she knew - collapsed yet sat upright.

Sad news gently told, Padre held tears in his eyes
from all said, knew he told the truth - without their lies
trusting in one's faith, daily prayers - life's purpose cries.

All four sons gone within a week, for war is hell - many die
half her flock now lost, unheld - as if all life gone dry
only memories and scattered relics would keep them by.

Soon her faith fully questioned, tested by that curse of why
re-make, re-shape, re-gather what yet remained of her brood
with them, re-group to carry-on - Faithís hopes still running high
wage an endless grief with family left - yet more firmly-hewed.

Then stand as she always stood, remembering that day - again to cry
a triple-duty daily done, there ponder - yet never knowing why
such wears peaceful countries in war-time, though far beyond scenes of battle
in this case, upon flat plains of Kansas, mostly grain - a few cattle.

Even here where all lived in peace, still heard clank of Deathís rattle
civilized with freedom, yet peopleís worth still used - as chattel.
December 9, 1999

Been pulled off regular duty, why him - never knew
no questions asked, only told - so he gathered nine men
remnants of former squads, those killed down til left but few
unknowing each other, different backgrounds - at least then.

Only two had jumped before, for would be dropped
somewhere southern France, thence East unless were stopped
took that flight, made jump, ground hit - but unknew where
so headed East - hoped find some clue out there.

Then a wintery fog set in, cold-damp with misty glow
thickened smokey-white, winds forbid to blow
gravity unfelt, vision failed - crept very slow
then one tripped a wire - naught heard but ammo.

That fire-fight deadly, both sides firing as if blind
some hit, Danny heard their cries - one stepped on a mine
til all lay unfiring, unseeing - sound became most precious
each tried to quell those inward fears - one's mind fearfully threshes.

When flood-lights flared, found a gully - there sneaked away
footing downwards, followed pathway with soundless care
those shots told where others lie, left to slow decay
for himself had fled, if stayed - no chance living there.

No road but found a creek, fled downstream far and fast
with fear for speed, long miles traced til dawn came at last.
What thereafter took place, of what or why - would not speak of it
visiting Danny in psycho ward, downtown Chicago
been there nearly thirty-years, his body fine - but mind left unfit
one once knew long ago, back when I'd been a Commando.

Unremembered me, but all this told - then just sat and stared
til I knew it time to leave, would not be back - although cared
going down long corridor, heard his yell as epilogue
over and over yelled, as daily did - But the fog, the fog!
December 17, 1999

Was ever a cause thought both sane and vain
yet either way, all would come out the same
conjured up reasons first shown, noble and grand
gave an opportunity - to take a stand.

In any season will be found a reason
strongly-held, if otherwised - would be treason.

All that wars needed was proud Patriotís call
to spark then flicker what warís warm wick would draw
although seeds of greed lay long unsprouted
quickly germed til bloomed, lies left - undoubted.

Inflamed their minds, then stout hearts - afterwards their souls
fashioned from past ideals, soon beaten into goals
left Warís embattled need held worthiest, as fully just
til war's heat charred their future hopes, leaving - but burnt-out husks.
December 28, 1999

Once war begins, unrescindable
wanted reasons unprescindable
done with cruel deeds of violence
as within one's mind - brews a silence.

Moral issues fermenting, fraught unresolvable
anguished souls forever struggle - unabsolvable.

Until logic's twisted ruse enables them to evoke
that argument's ancient lie - post hoc ergo propter hoc
a fact firstly given as presumed, accepted without proof
arguments that follow, proven true - veracity goes poof!

With rapid haste, wars brought to hate
savors its taste until too late
lives left to rot, ill-reasoned as Fate
thence sanctified - by powers of State.

Those left standing now morally disgraced
until becomes - every Cultureís trait.

When will Truth be truly found fully embraced
til that crooked way again - recurved straight?
December 29, 1999

When all former mornings brought a cloudless sky
til but a single day wrought a sightless sky
quenched out that holy light to guide one by
Death's dying tells - all future dreams must die.

Battles planned out with reasoned orders, or ill-planned offensive
secrets forever held in silence, war deeds fought intensive
too long waged midst foreign ways of exotic extremes
panicked til terrorized - remembered in one's dreams.

Yet in the end, one innly scarred - deep lesions still conceal
an ugly curse cast upon one's soul, can never reveal
if not early die upon lifeís battle field
half-death felt within - oneís lips ever sealed.

Life thereafter finds it matters little to die, soon or late
for Nature has rules of its own, tis these we allege as Fate
of what was done with what one planned, histories must measure by
tis only those who survived, must daily - still question why.
December 30, 1999

Made measured rounds on olden warís battle-ground
armed with time-distant-views, warned what be found
mind informed from Historyís lore, unknown if true or lied
til questioned within one's soul, worth and waste - of those who died.

Tried to grasp some hint of its ancient cause or end
what could drive sane men to live then die, wars still send
those few who led the many into daily battle zones
the most who fed those few with a glory - History loans.

Til each man, each side strongly driven by some sane ideal
though violates Manís basic good to be kind and genteel
suppress that wanted need to live, here gambled against those odds
cast oneís trust upon a promised forgiveness - from hoped-for gods.

Shattered one's nerves - to live or die, save or kill
midst that fractured sanity armed combat will
fraught with such intensity on sharp edge of Life's extremes
measure the unmeasurable - solved only in oneís dreams.

From one battle-ground to the next, traced across landís terrain
sometimes ridge or hill twice-taken, then lost in same campaign
thus we walked, led on by historied notes that ever spoke of war
succinctly declared those extremes, others here - once staunchly bore.

With map in hand, eyes to sun - so know which way North
viewed lay of land and woods, advantage once held forth
what supplies on hand or on the way, perhaps would not arrive
upon slim edge of Chance, balanced those odds - of who would survive.

Predecided decisions planned, fiercely held - unchanged despite poor odds
perhaps altered, likewise proved fatal - providentialed by warring gods
each day dealt midst those uncountable variables, stern Nature daily casts
peace for the moment or longer, but in the end Time has shown - never lasts.

Til despite what ideas, aims, cause or wants that initially fed start of war
if too long took to gain, people finally tire of its waste, its death - the gore
tis then, long waiting in the wings, tired Truce makes its cued entrance
to finally intervene
swords beaten back into plow-shares, again take up those teachings
taught by that Nazarene.
December 30, 1999

Some stood by flickering fire to warm their butts and hands
others lolled or sat their tents, but there beyond - one stands
distanced from the rest, down the road a bit - yet out of sight
placed on sentried duty - enduring chills of frosty night.

Posted nights or days, yet would not last Winter through
though heavily clothed, bleak hours suffered - keeping warm
every two hours returned to fire, drank coffee's brew
few words seldom spoken, for him - was his silent norm.

A quiet one with little to say, but not a loner
sharp-eared keen, his posted duty gave credit for that
well trusted, wise of Nature - healthy and not a moaner
mind quick like his eyes, but like have said - not one to chat.

In mid-twenties one would guess, lanky lean and very fast
been with same Troop for two years, for him - seemed so quickly passed.

Unlike others, with his clear-eye and steady hand - made a sniper
knew his gun, range and wobble - learned when held duty as a wiper
innately sensed drift of wind, how much one should lead
even changed his charge - to meet aimís intended need.

Hailed from some place up towards Jewell, a farmerís boy
volunteered as many others had, one named Roy
got letters more often than others, an avid reader too
but what he inly thought on or yearned for - no one really knew.

That night winds were high, eerie like January thunder
smashed dead beneath fallen limb, next morning found him under
broken off during raging storm, when on sentry-call
body shipped back on B&O, of him - last they saw.

Unknown to those troops, two weeks later on a farm near Jewell
a bonnie lass of but nineteen, still cried in her nightly dreams
heart-broken, would take some time to out-grow that grief so cruel
so like for so many, when War attends - many die it seems.
January 10, 2000

Suddenly came on three Jerries by small stream beside a tree
was not I who first saw, but they - for had quickly shot at me
two who shot were older, one behind that tree could tell was young
yet both missed, but not I, for somehow took them both - as quickly swung.

Now he and I, tense endless moments waiting for him behind that tree
while he perhaps wondering what now should do - all because of me.

Finally I shouted: kum aut - and dared he did as slowly came
foolish kid still held his gun, unknowing how must play war's game
yelled and motioned: drop rifle, he paused - I became more tense
unsure of both what I said, and if for him - words made sense.

Still confused, dropped his gun then backed off a step or two
both standing there face to face, each decide what to do
knew quaking fear would soon set in, rend his mind coldly numb
so I shouted, pointing for him to be off - was probably dumb!

He hesitated, could almost hear fears churn within his head
thence began to run, I let him go - watched as he quickly fled
wary more might come, checked other two - both were dead
thence moved on to my given aim, war wears - with constant dread.

Week later back at rest area among the guys, spending rec-time with
gathered at mess-tent, when saw across that wire - as if seen a myth
there that young Jerry stood, eyes full on me with his happy grin
as I deeply felt that flush of awkward Fate, sometimes - one may win!

Often think of him, wondering if alive or still remembered
when had stood with his gun yet in hand, thinking - he had surrendered!
January 30, 2000

Before morning sun breached earthís eastern brim
need required us early-rise, decamp at dawn
morning found one missed, last any saw of him
had slipped out of camp late of night - thence was gone.

Never seen thereafter, another AWOL - such was rare
with what inner reasons had decided, he did not share
as days and weeks whiled on, soon forgot - new news took his place
on few occasions re-mentioned - for war wears a rapid pace.

Was back in nineteen-forty-four, looking back - how those years have wore
few buddies kept in touch, most dead - know but two left from that war
me and another, even he is dying with cancer - saw him last Summer
good soldier had been, but after never quite right - til became just a bummer.

Soon will be but me left from our outfit, with but rusty tales
life a bit lonesome, finding most war stories told - quickly fails.

But last week, went to a funeral with wife and close friend
pastor of their church had died, we'd been asked to attend
wake in their church evening before, funeral next day
in that unknown church, approached casket in which he lay.

Yes t'was him, though eighty-plus - instantly knew that face
quite taken aback, after sixty years, now here in this place
childhood small-pox scarred his jaw, below left ear - showing bold
for all just called him Father Bill, his sur-name had not been told.

Been a missionary in the tropics for several score, was all they knew
as old age began to slow him, sent back state-side - became their pastor then
his past before, those early years in that war of forty-four - had no clue
such gathered with my questions, of his past no one knew - neither what nor when.

Let it go at that, unsaid nor asked more, but grateful for this surprise
somehow a happy day for me, took an early walk before sunrise
recalled another sunrise, sixty years ago when Bill disappeared
like an ending coda to that war, for he like I had volunteered.

Left to wonder why that decision made, then of where had fled
so well-liked, but funny things like this happen - war traumas bred
risky daring-do, nor seen as a traitor among our squad
another call made its need firmly felt - some may find quite odd.

Only those who bore brutal insanity a foot soldier clearly understands
remembering long ago, that cold morning heíd left - somewhere in wooded Rheinlands
felt highly honored to be at his funeral, a serendipity chanced by Time
for Lifeís mysteries oft spin strange tales others lived - like one here put to rhyme.
March 4, 2000

Its when they do not come back
life of former love goes slack
as grief grows gaunt with his lack
when have gone - but do not come back.

Long ago, required one merely waited til they showed
perhaps their lanky form seen as downed dusty road
or rode up farm lane, sitting a neighborís wagon load
yet worst of all if never seen, of such - never knowed.

Later times bid one wait for what mail brought
til some missive sent - might be received or not
then that anguished yearn, haunting hopes waiting brought
such of long ago - how many hearts found fraught.

Today one quickly learns with certainty of assurance
if killed, that mockery of governmental insurance
yet those found returned, still struggle with war's consequence
so many lived fractured lives - without due recompense.
March 17, 2000

When had quickly fired, knew would be a miss
then otherís turn - were almost vis-a-vis
three weeks later, that dreaded letter finally came
all because for one brief moment - had missed his aim.
March 26, 2000

Long line of blackish smoke ahead, told of strafing run
convoy, probably several tanks had come under gun
maybe five miles beyond woodís edge where stood to peer
then heard, but too late - German spoken perfectly clear.

Knew may be all over or taken to their rear
let rifle fall, slowly turned around - felt dreadful fear.

As far as I knew, faced but one - held him with my face
spoke words did not understand, motioned at my waist
knowing, unstrapped side-arm and extra ammoís brace
throat gone dry, within my mouth - newly known bitter taste.

He neither smiled nor showed anger - nor I
both kept each other steady, held with our eye
when dropped revolver and ammo, raised my hands high
he stepped aside, pointed with his gun - I knew why.

Off we strode down farm-lane leading back through those wood
til went past that farm-house where hour before I'd stood
clash of his ammoís belting told how far behind he walked
neither he nor I made any attempt - to talk.

As I led the way, knew were headed for my own lines
teased within my brain, why - he should know by the signs
hour's steady walking, til could see old mill just beyond
there my squad would be emplaced - just this side of mill-pond.

Dared not give hint of my hope, yet my fears held both ways
some of my men happy-jacks, might shoot us both as strays
when reached road leading down to grist-mill just below
he called halt, pointed me off - stood beside hedgerow.

Kept my eyes held on his, read if I could of what he thought
could not believe he unknew now among those lately fought
he looked not so much at me as beyond, that mill nearby
then shoved me on down that road - to which I could but comply.

Was when we took last curve, out-stepped two of my joes
could not understand, turned round at my German foe
had been walking behind me with both hands held up high
as they frisked him down, with wonder - again caught his eye.

In almost perfect English briefly told his wanted plan
be taken prisoner, I his ploy - so his story ran
fates of war funny, think allís over - then suddenly free
never saw him again to know of why - nor who he be.

For war is such a crazy world where all act a bit insane
although rules of engagement, army manuals may well explain
but no matter, was Godly thankful - even though a bit arcane.
April 18, 2000

Those dreadful words his German spoken told all
stood stock-still, each second - waited for my fall
knowing would happen before heard gunís report
but when was heard - I did not crumple athwart.

Long-stood, unknowing if had a crazy at my back
hearing but gentle winds among those Austrian pines
til so tired, emotion-drained - chose to simply fall slack
laid til dark blackened all - still waited for noised signs.

Moon emerged, murky gloom enlaced within those trees
slowly rolled over, gradually got to my knees
seeing naught, fully stood, quietly left - regain my lines
first hand acquaintance with Death - beneath those Austrian pines.
But Why?
June 9, 2000

Still remember that first one, how it came about
two days one night without sleep, us three sent to scout
noon-time of second day when first saw that kraut
caught us in farm-lane, took Kip - to leave no doubt.

War was beastly bloody, full-knew that afternoon
taught by Kipís death, our carelessness gave opportune
open fields all around with no where to hide
while that Jerry in barn-loft - could snipe from inside.

Thence Fred fired all his rounds at loftís open bay
but when ran-out, knew that kraut would know it too
I was ready, sick with fright - unthought to pray
when saw him in my sights - quickly shot him through.

The first, a ghastly knowingness filled my fevered brain
would not be the last, too many in four years were slain
blood-debts I will always carry until my deathís knell
all excuses used up, still see him crumple - drop then fell.

Limply lay upon the ground, a lifeless lump of useless flesh
all his gathered past wasted in a second - his smell still fresh
we rolled him back over, making sure was truly dead and done
such a simple movement, to sight then pull - power of a gun.

Few left of our outfit who fought that war - still hear that bulletís smack
war scars finally healed, a curse Circumstance laid on me
yet today sixty years after, war skies once more turning black
the first the worst all said, tis true - to keep America free.
August 6, 2000

Ever since early man first waded into fields, replete with wild wheat
found easy ways to corral and kill many beasts, by some simple hunterís feat
til arose that secret want to feast upon easy plunders, by those held beneath
gave first hints of bending others for their tribal's use, controled by a chief
yet other tribes often ravaged, their lives and goods - stolen like a thief.

Thus began slavery by pretense of necessity, those in power require
capture market shares for greed, despite loss of what others may aspire
ever consistent use of others, without care for their need to be fully free
conscripted like slaves, deprived minds and hearts their only good - to freely be.

Deny faith's traditions, learning skills - contain them like fenced-in cattle
everywhere under cover of laws, free yet enslaved - without means of battle.
September 21, 2000

HERR VON_______
At least had done his murders with class
for those soon to die, dealt without shame
though required killings done enmass
long after-years have forgot his name.

Others were sadistic, psychotic, insane
slew with xeno-hatred, viciously arcane
pleasured those weird sufferings inflicted thereby
without moral hints - even to question why.

Caught up in a system gone completely mad
freely allowed, encouraged - then required
despotic duty, fearless, crazy - never sad
their slaughter quenched human life - State desired.

Such, history has done before through those long ages past
perhaps more or less, tis such - Satanic hatred hast
beastal brutality hid behind foul skirts of war
down through lost ages - cruel hatreds have done before.

Though Herr Von held a heart of stoic brittle stone
brought death to hundreds, left unnamed - but ashen bone
ought not be prejudged, for would not taunt, tease nor maim
at least when died, his heart chose - they should feel no shame.

Like a farmer slaughters his flock, because of some plague
shortly done with quick cut of throat, while one holds their leg
duty done without vengeance, nor watched them suffered so
shamed, exposed, debased - Herr Von denied - their dyings slow.

Yes, Herr Von slayed his ten-thousands, brought about human death
his stoic style made all the difference, as gasped their final breath
done with such class, so dying felt some dignity at their last
perfunctory, swift - forbade executions savagely cast.

 With eyes glazed, stoic-stood til done, unsmiling - then left
crumpled bodies, their lives stolen by Herr Von's theft
their last visions telling, were not killed by angers hate
though must die, their execution - perhaps simply Fate.

Remember him? Oh yes, to wonder of such human savagery
one of few who refused those condemned - die with inane ravagery.

When thought upon, my after years yet recalling him
dispersed those tragedies with class, preserved their final dignity
forbade show of bitterness, final shots fired by his men
ceding Death some shred of human hopes - with least enigmity.

Always asked chaplain's prayer, all silent before and after
cursed by a system gone mad, yet Herr Von was Deathís crafter
when Four Horsemen ride my 'mares, wake up with staled sweat
Herr Vonís style saves those nights - his crimes held lesser debt.

Waste of Powers gone mad, beyond anyoneís control
at their last, although killed - at least felt like on parole
despite twisted reasons lay mangled within Herr Von's soul
his style gave some final strength, beyond Death - each made whole.

Crazy as all this may seem, that herein have chose to tell
Herr Von saved their sanity - for that war was bloody hell.
October 25, 2000

Battle came to sudden end, quiet mutely cast its spell
tired, worn silent, bombed aftermath a-smolder - smelt of hell
fires crackled like some vengeful laugh, war-gods left ungraced
sharp stench of niter, burnt oil smoked - but utter waste.

All this thought upon, as sat in farmhouse where three bodies lay
hearing sizzle of heated water, leaky coffee-pot gave
steam an ancient sound, comets first brought water to Earth
thence exploding, thereafter - melted their icy worth.

Occasionally, some portion of a body gave sudden tic
though by now Spirit fled, muscles still felt chemic clock's inner tick
stoically I sat, inured by war's waste - had seen many die when hit
hating what inly knew and felt - for had often been the cause of it.

Breathing's rise and fall unseen, elsewhere would shift shirt or blouse in sleep
three bodies lying there, in civilian life would cause one to weep
outside, several shoveled in self-silence - pausing when need to spit
dirty duty delegated, few who dug - felt proud of it.

Waterís boil brought me back from dirge-like reverie's dream
shoved pot aside, recalling momís death - then only thirteen
those older quiet-spoke, some with unheld tears to wet their eye
now in France twenty years later, knowing - yet unknowing why!

Few pictures hung room's wall, two showed those now a-floor - when young
their fear of death far removed, early life had never thought
I knowing how ended, their pictured smiles now deeply stung
here at this very hour, I observed - what their futures brought.

So many thoughts churned within, these lying here - but my brothers
sorting through, as if to justify reasons for killing others
but knew I could not, should not do - might end up as one war-crazed
quickly left, ignored those digging there, as far beyond - I gazed.
November 5, 2000

Gathered from remnant squads, three training jumps done by end of day
all laughed, early morning next emplaned, took-off - low clouds cast gray
sarge in charge told good day to jump, weíll come in low - a short drop
sat beside Skip two days knew, all silent - only humming props.

Time came for all line-up, hooked our lines - Skip second at side door
he encouraged guy ahead, I of Skip - one behind of me
door removed brought rush of air, as sergeant yelled go - Skip jumped free.

I followed with hope and fear, to urge my leap into thin air
cold burn of wind, chute's expected yank felt upped with its scare
beneath misting clouds, saw foggy ground lay not too far below
one chute seen on the ground - but no other with whitened bellow.

Ground hit, rolled, upped, ran then fell - whirled, pulled lines in
unstrapped to wad and wrap, saw first one wave and grin
was then spied one lying there, knew had to be Skip
chute still strapped to his back - somehow had missed its rip.

Reached Skipís side, his body contorted - died an instant death
how long stood who knows, then noticed fog - thought was from my breath
machine-guns suddenly commenced, shattered my thoughts of Skip
hit the ground, saw another pointing - where ground made small dip.

Lucky for most, fog rolled in quickly - far beyond heard Sarge yell
all hunkered down, waited - again those German guns heard to spill
waited til knew our men got behind, when other shots gave sound
that skirmish killed all the enemy - six of ours taken down.

In all, twenty-four dead, but twenty minutes - including Skip
knew him but two days, when war-after asked - lied with teasing quip
nearly three score since that war, Hell gone through quickly grew one old
barely three years since wife died, far worse than those lies - wars have told.
November 18, 2000

Through twisted tangles, Time thereafter tore
when weary ways were waged with wanton war
desperate deeds daily done, duty-driven - done with impunity
until useless ultimatums uttered - undid their unity.

Was then Travis, Hank, Drake and Jeb vanished beyond far hills
struck out on their own, escaping war's waste, and those one kills
almost a month traveled, surreptitiously mostly at night
til found themselves across northern border - to end their flight.

Of those four, only Drake returned - twenty years after they had fled
quietly worked old family farm, never caught - for word never spread
as heat of war chilled, tales heard what been made to do
til Time healed war hates, birthing Freedom's truth - more true.
December 2, 2000

When full-moon bathes what lies before, with its diminished eerie glow
apprised much like futures fare, uncertain exactly of where might go
when calendar tells, new moon will blacken heaven's skies tonight
surmised perhaps best sit fireplace by - watch its dancing light.

Later I stepped outside to the porch, there could view those astral stars
fondly surprised, for to my left with reddish hue - rose planet Mars
inly quizzed its sterile dust, dry rocks where eternal silence dwells
thence heard tree toads piping, Spring's ancient sound - dripping-water tells.

Early Springtime, before night insects made porch a painful place to sit
pulled chair out beyond roof's eaves, to watch those early bats dart and flit
spring peeper's continued their chorused calls, heard to droned the night
thence caught brief flash of shooting-star - dark sky streaked its tail bright.

Instantly mind flashed back past years, so like a night-tracer bullet fired
evening's peace felt intruded on, muddled my mind - old war thoughts sired
so returned inside, played some classics, phoned a friend and talked awhile
fifty years, still that war lies in wait - crouched like some vengeful reptile.
December 5, 2000

December another season, reaps a sort of madness
as people grumbled, striven to find gifts their friendships bound
remember another season, reaped a depth of sadness
as people stumbled, driven to mine beneath - what be found.

Visit varied stores, ever looking for what felt most meet
thrice decided then changed, until their searching seemed futile
midst bombed-out buildings, seeking bits of wood or coal for heat
thrice picked through by others, Winterís cold that year - most brutal.

All that trouble, til at last Christmas shopping finally done
midst that rubble, some would die in hidden graves - known by none.
December 11, 2000

Life finally vanquished by Death
gasp-quenched with last anguished breath
of short or long years, daily dealt
those that died - loss still deeply felt.

But of those found afterwards on battle grounds
with silence, shoveled in their shallow mounds
unknowing names, their past or if married
one's rank, age, known or not - quickly buried.

Only their dog-tags ripped off, such data saved
headquarters duty - explain who, when, where graved.

Some are never found, nothing left to find
only memories held by those left behind
never to lie beneath honored memorial ground
etched stones merely a sign, here - but memory crowned.

Row by rows, stones of white - Crossed or Davidís star
decades later many still come, traveled far
not where they fell, but here given final tribute
last gesture proudly honored - a profound salute.

Old soldiers never die, merely fade away
those unfound elsewhere lie - rot with slow decay.
December 11, 2000

A rural church ancient built, high vaulted ceiling
Christmas long past, found one there gratefully kneeling
lit by many candles, each one asked to hold
midnight mass, windows shattered - very cold.

Town now forgotten, some French church near river Rhine
a soldier lost stumbled in, led there by spire's sign
so quiet, could clearly hear Abbé recite each word
when timed, each loudly sang from depths - their gratefulness stirred.

Each childís face held with awe, midst bright candleís flickering glow
but those older who knew curse of war's waste, no smiles made show
moist eyes wept silent tears, three years suffered lack and want by war
though adults understood - even children must have seen its gore.

After, I stumbled out to lose myself within dark nightís gloom
but someone clasped my sleeve, spoke with but their eyes - telling had room
whereof might share what little had - with but what each gave to whom.

Several days there spent, sharing their meager lack of food
helped cobble-up shattered sheds, though when done - rather crude
thence drifted eastward, re-find some outfit with which to fight
but why, so much had changed within - after that Christmas night.
December 11, 2000

Atop abandoned lighthouse along an Irish coast
raw windy day, when Winter oft brewed its worse as most
beyond its glass, ocean raped by weatherís beastal fury
high surf whitecaps boiled near shore - washed its roiled slurry.

From the north drifting low, came clouds of impending fog
sort of weather-storm old timers entered in their log
even lighthouse felt to shake, when gusting winds would smite
Longly stood pondering - how survived that war's vicious fight.

Though my eyes saw weatherís rage, thought of frightful years before
free-time of early youth, when like many - sent off to war
roiled sea reminding such violent wastes, learned to abhor
those friends once made then lost - to die midst warís foul reek and gore.

Then noticed thick fog lifting, dispersing - hard to believe
sun dimly seen at first, thinking would be a brief reprieve
winds soon went slack, whitecaps eased, although waves still coming in
storm suddenly ceased, sun fully shown - unlike morning been.

For stormy weathers, like ills of life - finally wear themselves out
recalling how war wasted so much, leaving one's hopes in doubt
but time passes on, as life slowly refashions some newer view
like that day war ended, knowing left behind - former friends once knew.
December 20, 2000

But three tattered days remain, to outwear this longish year
with Christmas past, silent snow drifts without - chill, stark and sere
low clouds of gray, foretell tomorrows will be much the same
by wood-stove sat looking out, idled thoughts - my life made claim.

Though far removed in time, place and season
fifty years back, former war its reason
emplaced in eastern France when Spring felt warm
on re-con duty, for me - the usual norm.

Had been pushed back across two ridges from the east
three days we held our foe, as if the war had ceased
I sent to scout, find if enemy left or stayed
with eyes and ears on keen alert - I onward strayed.

Beneath those trees, purpled violets bravely grew
freshly bloomed, though a foreign land - found there too
watched for birds, their flitting flights might give clue
a scary mission - all this I inly knew.

As neared stream between first and second ridge
saw kraut step off this side of footpath bridge
I hid by cliffs, watched from beneath their ledge
saw him stop, bend down - looked along streamís edge.

If not been war, this scene much like a Sunday's walk
since war instead, held silent like a nervous hawk
there in that wooded silence, I lay completely still
remember distinctive sound - made by that flowing rill.

Heard his distant voice softly speak, wondered what had found
weaker voice barely heard, knew another lay the ground
kraut finally took steps my way, felt my pulse loudly tick
then he stopped, fumbled midst those weeds - came up with a stick.

In spite of armed machinery, wars must now rely upon
in the end tis Nature, war's progress gained or redrawn.

Laid rifle down, with both hands - stick broken off at each end
thence returned to that bridge, again saw him stoop and bend
slowly raised up one of ours, Charlie with leg hanging loose
placed that stick beneath his shoulder - like crutch put in use.

Charlie such a timid soul, too much to be fighting this war
hailed from Elsmere, Nebraska - wounded here amidst its gore
his leg broken at best, half-world around - a rancherís son
but if should heal, spry Charlie would be game to ride - since young.

Helped him walk, then without that rifle - pointed my way
lamely began to limp along, advancing towards where I lay
kraut walked back across bridge - til became lost to my ear and eye.

I held still, watched Charlie slowly struggle til passed me by
when Charlie far behind me, slinked back to reach his side
two hours later, regained our group - I had been his guide.

By then knew his leg would be lost, free-ticket back state-side
perhaps in several months, on prairie plains try to ride
his life spared by a foe who saw a deeper worth than war
I continued my duty, but of Charlie - heard no more.

Recalled by my wood-stove, olden thoughts again returned
midst war's haste one chose mercy - of one's care more concerned.
December 29-30, 2000

Not long ago, I stood bracing Channelís salt-air a-blow
far beyond viewed waters now placid, especially below
awakened dread fears and tears, even lost years cannot quench
much ground gained by waste and loss, just two days after - their stench!

Later traveled southeast, til reached ancient river Rhine
west-side stood above, sheltered by trees of moaning pine
recalled what here took place, efforts to cross that river wide
how all anxious to crush a leader - who sought genocide.
Beyond Buchenwald, viewed peaceful town where Thekla lay
remembering harsh cold chill of former April day
silent stood east edge of hamlet, watching children play
as soldiers like I threw-up - from rank smell of decay.
Then a year ago, stood below Maryeís Heights beside stone wall
much like that recent war, could see them hit, twitch, writhe and fall
few who survived, dreadful life-long dreams would share
like every foot-soldier - I must inly bear.

Slaughtered slicings of life within one's soul, those dreadful fears still haunt
some hidden agenda just below the mind, at times wears one gaunt
those events of gallant highs, when nearly heroes - Chance might make
or far more often, felt that brutal hate - one's angered fears could not fake.
January 2, 2001

Was one who had seen too much
when long past, had done of such
his youth shaped upon warís anvil
olden lies - war makes one manful!

Despite traumas then incurred
long after, once more restirred
til traveled across that wide sea
where once marched, now re-walked to see.

Re-live what back then once felt
observe what peace lately built
early youth had spent four years fighting there
two score years have passed - now but stand and stare.

Across western Europe, walked its Summer through
from beach of Omaha south, thence eastward drew
when reached that Rhine, uncrossed for several days
for there just beyond - worst remembered lays.

A war within that war, for there such began
nation's youth forfeited, offered as corban
all human rules ceased, when war took on worst of hates
for just beyond the Rhine - first saw inside those gates.

Reason challenged with a treason, could not comprehend
inexplicable how low Hate found to condescend
ruptured all respect once believed - encaged like beast
betrayed, when western soldiers met those from the East.

There learned that disparity, another Culture bred
at first seemed human, but beneath - all respect had fled
their lust thrust upon raped civilians, when West met East
to wonder what deadly toxin, Slavic centuries still used - as yeast.
February 3, 2001

Such oft chanced beneath a war-weathered sky
taking aim, then see one hit - fall and die
perhaps in self-defense, since time of war
my enemy, shot him through - lived no more.

Like all wars, ending - at least for awhile
afterwards enjoyed life's peace-time style
such brave deeds wars praise, now reasoned but a lie
conflicts settled in such a way - many die.

Of deeds then done, those am now most ashamed
drafted, soon felt anger - war-fears inflamed
battles fought, inner quandaries still asking why
deeds left unresolved - beneath a war-weathered sky.
March 5, 2001

Stood there, her bonnet-strings dancing like leaves on a vine
orangy tints of sunset, but of their beauty - now blind
fence-held, staring beyond that valley unseen below
as inner thoughts wove anguished strands - could not forgo.

Saddened news arrived by post, mid-day noon
dated fortnight past, be third week of June
handwriting unknown, signed by one unknew
yet what told assured her - was not untrue.

For just two weeks past, as washed those dishes by
sudden-felt silent hint, yet unknowing why
premonitions wore her heart til tasteless dry
yet still she hoped that ill-omen - but a lie.

Today at noon, remembered its warning
when letter fully read, felt grief forming
eve found her long staring, to all else blind - unaware
son's death broke her heart, late twilight cast - with deep despair.
March 20, 2001

Three long years faced many foes
met and lost a lot of joes
finally get used to such hell
though much of war - cannot tell.

Heroic deeds common place
despite needs often base
whole range of human feelings
long years may mend - with healings.

Too sudden, always that fear
fought the Line, so faced them near
til only react with one's gun
but turn and fire - tis quickly done.

Too many moments recalled
blent to blurs - die or be mauled
but is one held clear in mind
so personal - one of a kind.

A bloody fire-fight ensued
til that lull before renewed
found one of ours in a ditch
knew would die - seen by his twitch.

As his life about to smother
I said - say hi to mother
like one joe might to another
true, that joe - was my brother!
April 24, 2001

Date yet recalled by more than a few
though in centuries yon, forgot in lieu
human tragedies, wars again still fight anew
replaced by young soldiers, old vets - but review.

Endless devastations, greed brought to war
power's need for control, so gain far more
though trust tis best, deceit is now preferred rapport
til truce agrees to slavery - appeasement's encore.
June 6, 2001