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27th-Nov-2015 01:00 am - Billy Joel, 'Leningrad'

Viktor was born in the spring of '44
And never saw his father anymore
A child of sacrifice, a child of war
Another son who never had a father after Leningrad

Went off to school and learned to serve the state
Followed the rules and drank his vodka straight
The only way to live was drown the hate
A Russian life was very sad
And such was life in Leningrad

I was born in '49
A cold war kid in McCarthy time
Stop 'em all at the 38th Parallel
Blast those yellow reds to hell
And cold war kids were hard to kill
Under their desks in an air raid drill
Haven't they heard we won the war
What do they keep on fighting for?

Viktor was sent to some Red Army town
Served out his time, became a circus clown
The greatest happiness he'd ever found
Was making Russian children glad
And children lived in Leningrad

But children lived in Levittown
And hid in the shelters underground
Until the Soviets turned their ships around
And tore the Cuban missiles down
And in that bright October sun
We knew our childhood days were done
And I watched my friends go off to war
What do they keep on fighting for?

And so my child and I came to this place
To meet him eye to eye and face to face
He made my daughter laugh, then we embraced
We never knew what friends we had
Until we came to Leningrad

By Billy Joel

26th-Nov-2015 01:00 am - Glenn Kletke, 'Sledding'

Through wide and motionless streets
a mother pulls a child on a wooden sled.

Two or three children stand and stare.
They have no wish to go sledding.

The mother could be a shadow.
The child is tightly bound in rags.

It is late autumn, Leningrad, 1943.
The Nazis wait to claim the besieged city.

The czar of the metropolis is starvation.
Citizens gather in common graves.

The mother tugs at the frayed rope.
The sled whispers on stone.

By Glenn Kletke
25th-Nov-2015 02:00 am - Jessie Pope, 'Socks'

Shining pins that dart and click
In the fireside's sheltered peace
Check the thoughts that cluster thick-
20 plain and then decrease.

He was brave, well, so was I,
Keen and merry, but his lip
Quivered when he said good-bye
Purl the seam-stitch, purl and slip.

Never used to living rough,
Lots of things he'd got to learn;
Wonder if he's warm enough
Knit 2, catch 2, knit 1, turn.

Hark! The paper-boys again!
Wish that shout could be suppressed;
Keeps one always on the strain,
Knit off 9, and slip the rest.

Wonder if he's fighting now,
What he's done and where he's been;
He'll come out on top, somehow
Slip 1, knit 2, purl 14.

By Jessie Pope
24th-Nov-2015 01:00 am - Everard Jack Appleton, 'Reprisal'

Sister Susie's sittin' knittin'
Sweaters, wristlets, scarfs, an' socks;
She ain't "sewin' shirts for soldiers"
'Cause she got so many knocks
From th' papers 'bout her sewin'—
Now she's knittin' pounds of yarn
Into things to send away.... Well,
I don't care,
Don't care a darn!

Hasn't knit no scarf or sweater,
Hasn't made no socks for me;
Little brother, he can rustle
For himself alone, you see!
Maw is on the Help Committee,
Paw is drillin' with th' Guard;
Brother's soldierin'—and sister's
Knittin' fast
An' awful hard!

No, they won't pay me no 'tention,
So I'm goin' to run away,
Join th' army as a—as a
Bellboy, may be, without pay.
Then I'll get a scarf an' sweater
And some socks, soon as I go,
From some other feller's sister
That I do not
Even know.

by Everard Jack Appleton
23rd-Nov-2015 01:00 am - Dean Brody, 'Brothers'

The house was like a tomb.
I was hiding in my room.
As my brother made his way on down the hall.

I didn't want to say goodbye.
And I was trying to deny there was a war,
And that he got the call.

I watched him from my window
Walking down the drive.
Then I ran down the stairway
Through the front door and I cried

You come back you hear?
And I let him see my tears
I said I'll give you my rookie of DiMaggio.
I'll do anything you want,
Clean your room, or wash your car.
I'll do anything so long as you don't go.
But he said, this is what brothers are for.

Well I have my heroes,
But the one I love the most
Taught me how to hunt and swing a bat.
And I wrote him every night,
I said I miss our pillow fights,
But lately I just wonder where you're at.

Sometimes freedom makes it hard to live.
When it takes things from you that you don't want to give.

I said you come back you hear?
I miss you being near.
Laugh and fish down in the maple grove

I'll do anything you want.
There must be someone I can call,
And just maybe they would let you come back home.
But he wrote, this is what brothers are for.

I may never have to face the anger of those guns,
Or lie cold and wounded in my blood,
Or know the sacrifice and what it must of cost
For him to love me that much.

Well, it had been two years,
And I held back my tears
When I saw him in that wheel chair on the shore.

And as I ran and held him tight,
That's when he looked me in the eye
And said I'm sorry that you have to push me home.
And I said hey, this is what brothers are for.

By Dean Brody

22nd-Nov-2015 02:00 am - Jessie Pope, 'The Knitting Song'
The Knitting Song

Soldier lad, on the sodden ground,
Sailor lad on the seas,
Can't you hear a little clicketty sound
Stealing across on the breeze?
It's the knitting-needles singing their song
As they twine the khaki or blue,
Thousands and thousands and thousands strong,
Tommy and Jack, for you.

Click -- click -- click,
How they dart and flick,
Flashing in the firelight to and fro!
Now for purl and plain,
Round and round again,
Knitting love and luck in every row.

The busy hands may be rough or white,
The fingers gouty or slim,
The careful eyes may be youthfully bright,
Or they may be weary and dim,
Lady and workgirl, young and old,
They've all got one end in view,
Knitting warm comforts against the cold,
Tommy and Jack, for you.

Knitting away by the midnight oil,
Knitting when day begins,
Lads, in the stress of your splendid toil,
Can't you hear the song of the pins?
Clicketty, click -- through the wind and the foam
It's telling the boys over there
That every 'woolly' that comes from home
Brings a smile and a hope and a prayer.

Click -- click -- click,
How they dart and flick,
Flashing in the firelight to and fro!
Now for purl and plain,
Round and round again,
Knitting love and luck in every row.

By Jessie Pope
21st-Nov-2015 01:00 am - Nathan, 'Teach Me Peace'
Teach Me Peace

Mother, teach me peace.
Everyone is making war, and we hardly ever see peace.
At school, I learn these things…

I’ve had enough mother,
I’ve had enough of war stories.
It’s horrible, all the destroyed territories,
The men and women who have perished.

It’s despicable, all those machines
Made for the purpose of killing people.
The whole land is mined and ready to explode…

Mother, teach me peace.
I know all about war and nothing about peace.
All I know is how to hate war.

By Nathan, a 12-year-old Congolese boy
Translated by Gabrielle Marshall
20th-Nov-2015 01:00 am - Geoffrey Dearmer, 'From 'W' Beach'
From 'W' Beach

The Isle of Imbros, set in turquoise blue,
Lies to the westward; on the eastern side
The purple hills of Asia fade from view,
And rolling battleships at anchor ride.

White flocks of cloud float by, the sunset glows,
And dipping gulls fleck a slow-waking sea,
Where dim steel-shadowed forms with foaming bows
Wind up in the Narrows towards Gallipoli.

No colour breaks this tongue of barren land
Save where a group of huddled tents gleams white;
Before me ugly shapes like spectres stand,
And wooden crosses cleave the waning light.

Now the sky gardeners speed the hurrying day
And sow the plains of night with silver grain;
So shall this transient havoc fade away
And the proud cape be beautiful again.

Laden with figs and olives, or a freight
Of purple grapes, tanned singing men shall row,
Chanting wild songs of how Eternal Fate
Withstood that fierce invasion long ago.

by Geoffrey Dearmer
19th-Nov-2015 01:00 am - Leon Adams, 'The God of War'
The God of War
Thoughts on the Italian Invasion of Ethiopia

Mars has again descended from his throne
To ravage earth with bloody human strife;
To break away the bonds of peace and love
And send one nation warring with another,
As sparrows combat o'er a trifling crumb;
To wash the verdant earth with sickening blood
And herald death into a million homes.
The fields are strewn with reeking, dying men
Filled with the thoughts and hopes of worlds gone mad.
The future? Famine! Poverty! And Strife!
Wars are made by men who seek to line
Their itchy pockets with dishonoured loot.
God sighs. Life goes on.

By Leon Adams, November 1935

Italy's invasion of Ethiopia began October 3, 1935.
18th-Nov-2015 02:00 am - Phyllis McGinley, 'Dido of Tunisia'
Dido of Tunisia

I had heard of these things before--of chariots rumbling
Through desolate streets, of the battle cries and the danger,
And the flames rising up, and the walls of the houses crumbling.
It was told to me by a stranger.

But it was for love of the fair and long-robed Helen,
The stranger said (his name still troubles my sleep),
That they came to the windy town he used to dwell in,
Over the wine-dark deep.

In the hollow ships they came, though the cost was dear.
And the towers toppled, the heroes were slain without pity.
But whose white arms have beckoned these armies here
To trample my wasted city?

Ah, this, Aeneas, you did not tell me of:
That men might struggle and fall, and not for love.

By Phyllis McGinley
17th-Nov-2015 01:00 am - Carl Sandburg, 'Killers'


I am singing to you
Soft as a man with a dead child speaks;
Hard as a man in handcuffs,
Held where he cannot move:

Under the sun
Are sixteen million men,
Chosen for shining teeth,
Sharp eyes, hard legs,
And a running of young warm blood in their wrists.

And a red juice runs on the green grass;
And a red juice soaks the dark soil.
And the sixteen million are killing ... and killing and killing.

I never forget them day or night:
They beat on my head for memory of them;
they pound on my heart and I cry back to them,
To their homes and women, dreams and games.

I wake in the night and smell the trenches,
And hear the low stir of sleepers in the lines--
Sixteen million sleepers and pickets in the dark:
Some of them long sleepers for always,
Some of them tumbling to sleep to-morrow for always,
Fixed on the drag of the world's heartbreak,
Eating and drinking, toiling ... on a long job of killing.
Sixteen million men.

by Carl Sandburg

To a College Class

I come today to speak to you
About the past and of the future.
To talk to you of war and of peace.
Once I was like you,
Sitting in a classroom
Pondering unanswerable questions
With youthful confidence and strength,
My belief based on innocence,
My trust based on inexperience,
And truth was to seek out.

My generation has come and gone
To be replaced by yours.
Once a child of the 60’s
I now stand here a man of the 80’s,
Yet I can still remember
What it was like to be young,
How it felt to know tomorrow
Would always be a better day.
And all the older adults, the old farts
Were to be simply tolerated,
Friendly, but harmless,
They were just...there.

I was a part of the war in Vietnam,
I went as an eager curious young man
And came back home, jaded and weary,
For I learned more that one year
Than most will ever learn in a lifetime.
I saw reality, and it was ugly,
I experienced truth, and it was bitter;
In my tour, all life’s fairy-tales
Exploded in that myth-shattering year
And I have never been quite the same.

Today, the war in Vietnam
Is condensed into a few chapters
To be lightly discussed
In the History and Political Science books.
They recount the battles fought;
Of victories won, of campaigns lost,
Of dollars spent and divisive politics,
Of avoidable mistakes and misjudgements
Of indecisive, groping, failing White Houses;
Of angry, massive demonstrations and riots in the streets.

The world of Academia sometimes turns sterile,
And sometimes conveniently leaves out the human element;
Forgets and omits the personal tragedy;
Overlooks pain, suffering, and death;
Does not acknowledge the human condition.
They simply reduce the Vietnam War, and other wars,
Into just another short, inconsequential chapter of America;
A sordid, bitter, embarrassing experience best forgotten.

Some books even attempt to rewrite history,
Turning Vietnam into a noble, righteous cause.
History shows it was not the politicians who fought that war,
It was not the Congressmen’s children who died in the mud,
Nor the sons of the rich and wealthy subjected to misery;
Nor was it the World War Two veterans or the war hawks
Who were sent across a vast ocean to a heretofore unknown country
Where they would kill; where they would be killed
For a reason no one today can recall exactly why....

It was the common, ordinary children of America;
The kid next door, down the block, around the corner,
The ones you went to school with, went to church with.
They were the ones who fought and died in Vietnam.
It was the nineteen-year-old frightened, scared kid
Whose blood soaked into the red mud.
He was the acceptable casualty,
The expendable youth, the body count.
He, this country could afford to lose.

These children had hopes and dreams.
They did not want to die in a faraway land!
They had futures, possibilities, all taken away.
They had their youth and health.
While others evaded, avoided, or fled,
These were drafted and sent to war.
While the privileged sons of the rich,
The elite, those of the higher class, got degrees,
Got married, got into business, got deferments,
Joined the National Guard or Reserves,
While their unfortunate poorer “brothers”
Fought and bled and died horribly, far away.

There is another story of Vietnam
Which you can read; experience personally
In your quest for truth and reality.
You will see it in the VA hospitals,
You will feel it in military cemeteries,
You will read it on Washington’s Black Wall.
And in these places is where you will find
The sombre, tragic, sober realities of war.
While the survivors of that terrible experience
Returned home, searching to regain their lost humanity.

For in war men lose their souls!
For what they do against their fellow man
Has no definition, no rhyme, no reason!
Where the death of friends and trusted comrades
Ultimately has no meaning, no context it can be put into,
No manner it can be understood and rationalized,
No reason that can ever explain why them and not you?
And these survivors of war returned home searching
For those answers, and for what they had lost in war.

But this loss, this emptiness, this frustration, this searching,
Finds no answers, no solutions, no understanding,
No justification, no meaning, no sense.
The Vietnam veteran returned home, homeless,
Rejected, outcast, despised, ostracized
By his own country, by the very people he used to know,
As he now, personally carries the blame for his war,
As the atrocities and horrors congruent of every war,
Were forever misplaced directly on his young weary shoulders.
He was now held personally responsible,
For the war he was forced to fight;
A war in which he had no choice,
He was just another “number,” sent to war by his country
Where he was considered too young and immature to vote!

Today you, another generation of Americans
Are sitting in these same college classrooms
Asking the same, unanswerable questions.
Probing for secrets of knowledge, for learning.
Today another White House and Congress
Without regard for the Vietnam experience,
With no appreciation of the lessons of war
Would send your generation to their little war.
Where once again young men will fight and die
For a politician’s equal, ignoble, unjustified, war,
Orchestrated and based on lies and falsehoods,
That they cannot explain, cannot justify.
Instead, rely on a political sensitive General over there,
Whose answer is always, “Six more months.”

I am here today as one of many Vietnam veterans
Who has experienced combat,
Who has killed for his country,
Who has seen his countrymen killed.
I am a survivor and learned too much
About war, government, human nature and life.
I will answer your questions as honestly
As I possibly can; just bear with me,
As I continue, the search… for my soul!

By Curtis D Bennett
15th-Nov-2015 01:00 am - W. Snow, 'Oxford in War-Time'
Oxford in War-Time

[The Boat Race will not be held this year (1915). The whole of last year’s Oxford Eight and the great majority of the cricket and football teams are serving the King.]

Under the tow-path past the barges
Never an eight goes flashing by;
Never a blatant coach on the marge is
Urging his crew to do or die;
Never the critic we knew enlarges,
Fluent, on How and Why!

Once by the Iffley Road November
Welcomed the Football men aglow,
Covered with mud, as you’ll remember,
Eager to vanquish Oxford’s foe.
Where are the teams of last December?
Gone—where they had to go!

Where are her sons who waged at cricket
Warfare against the foeman-friend?
Far from the Parks, on a harder wicket,
Still they attack and still defend;
Playing a greater game, they’ll stick it,
Fearless until the end!

Oxford’s goodliest children leave her,
Hastily thrusting books aside;
Still the hurrying weeks bereave her,
Filling her heart with joy and pride;
Only the thought of you can grieve her,
You who have fought and died.

By W. Snow
14th-Nov-2015 01:00 am - Bryan Adams, 'Coming Home'
Coming Home

All those nights I've spent alone,
Uninspired, so tired and wasted.
There's lots of times I'd have telephoned,
I couldn't find the words to say,

I'm coming home,
Lord I'm coming home
I'll make it short,
I'll make it sweet,
Make it up to you and me.
I'm not the same guy I used to be,
What can I do to make you believe,

I'm coming home,
Oh I'm coming home.
I'm coming home,
Yeah I'm coming home.
Only seems like yesterday,
You and I were sayin' goodbye,
Now I'm just a few miles away
Gonna see you tonight.

I've been alone and I live the pain,
Reach for you in desperation.
I was wrong, I'll take the blame,
I need you back now I just can't wait,

I'm coming home
Yeah I'm coming home.
Coming home,
I'm just coming, coming,
Waiting it out.
I'm just coming home.

By Bryan Adams

13th-Nov-2015 01:00 am - Jimmy Newquist, 'Sullivan'

Its not hard to reach back to the day
underneath an Iowa sun
running to the tower of Waterloo
looking for the Sullivan train to come
His five boys would run to the top and salute him as he went
first he'd wave hello, and then we'd wave goodbye.

it's not hard to reach back to the days
after the attack on Pearl
and overnight my buddies turned into men
running out of time for games and girls.
The Sullivan boys were not overlooked
Uncle Sam called them each by name.
The very next day they left on a mystery train.
"...we regret to inform you,
the Navy has taken your sons away..." all five...
so put your blue star in the window.

It's not hard to reach back to her smile
when she'd receive a letter.
The letters sounded generally the same it said
if they couldn't be home at least they were together
on a mighty fighting battleship,
somewhere in the south pacific.
The letters never got much more specific.
Say goodbye Mrs. Sullivan and don't you cry
"...we regret to inform you
that the Navy is keeping your sons away" all five...
so keep your blue star in the window.

It's not hard to reach back to the day the war finally came
Uncle Sam will send you a telegram,
so he doesn't have to tell you over the phone.
I heard she cracked up when she found what the war had cost.
All five of her boys were lost.
Say goodbye Mrs. Sullivan don't you cry.
"...we regret to inform you all your sons have passed away."
All five...
So change your blue star to gold.

By Jimmy Newquist

The Sullivan brothers, died Nov. 13, 1942

12th-Nov-2015 01:00 am - Bryan Adams, 'Remembrance Day'
Remembrance Day

For our king and our country and the promise of glory
We came from Kingston and Brighton to fight on the front line

Just lads from the farms and boys from the cities
Not meant to be soldiers we lay in the trenches

We'd face the fighting with a smile - or so we said
If only we had known what danger lay ahead

The sky turned to grey as we went into battle
On the fields of Europe young men were fallin'

I'll be back for you someday - it won't be long
If I can just hold on 'til this bloody war is over

The guns will be silent on Remembrance Day
There'll be no more fighting on Remembrance Day

By October of 18 Cambrai had fallen
Soon the war would be over and we'd be returnin'

Don't forget me while I'm gone far away
Well it won't be long 'till I'm back there in your arms again

One day soon - I don't know when
You know we'll all be free and the bells of peace will ring again

The time will come for you and me
We'll be goin' home when this bloody war is ended

The guns will be silent on Remembrance Day
We'll all say a prayer on Remembrance Day

On Remembrance Day - say a little prayer
On Remembrance Day

Well the guns will be silent
There'll be no more fighting
Oh we'll lay down our weapons
On Remembrance Day

By Bryan Adams

11th-Nov-2015 01:00 am - Patrick MacGill, 'The Cross'
The Cross
(On the grave of an unknown British soldier, Givenchy, 1915)

The cross is twined with gossamer, --
The cross some hand has shaped with care,
And by his grave the grasses stir
But he is silent sleeping there.

The guns speak loud: he hears them not;
The night goes by: he does not know;
A lone white cross stands on the spot,
And tells of one who sleeps below.

The brooding night is hushed and still,
The crooning breeze draws quiet breath,
A star-shell flares upon the hill
And lights the lowly house of death.

Unknown, a soldier slumbers there,
While mournful mists come dropping low,
But oh! a weary maiden's prayer,
And oh! a mother's tears of woe.

By Patrick MacGill
10th-Nov-2015 01:00 am - Zach de la Rocha, 'March of Death'
March of Death

I was born with the voice of a riot, a storm
Lightning the function, the form
Far from the norm, I won't follow like cattle
I'm more like the catalyst,
calm in the midst of battle
Who let the cowboy on the saddle?
He don't know a missile from a gavel

Para terror troopin' flippin' loops of death upon innocent flesh
But i'm back in the cipher my foes and friends
with a verse and a pen
against a line I won't toe or defend
instead I curse at murderous men
in suits of professionals who act like animals
This man child, ruthless and wild
Who's gonna chain this beast back on the leash?
This Texas Fuehrer, for sure a
compassionless con who serve a
lethal needle to the poor, the cure for crime is murder?

Well I was born with the voice of a riot, a storm
Lightening the function, the form
Far from the norm, I won't follow like cattle
I'm more like the catalyst,
calm in the midst of battle
Who let the cowboy on the saddle?
He don't know a missile from a gavel

on the left
on the left, left, right, left
on the left
on the left, left, right, left (but it's just a march of death)
on the left
on the left, left, right

I read the news today
oh boy
a snap shot of a midnight ploy
Vexed and powerless
devoured my hours I'm motionless
with no rest
'Cause a scream now holds the sky
under another high-tech driveby
A lie is a lie this God is an eagle
or a condor for war nothing more
Islam peace, Islam stare into my eye brother
please off our knees
To beef now we feed their disease
interlocked our hands across seas
What is a flag is a rag but a shroud out loud
outside my window is a faceless crowd
'Cause a cowering child just took her last breath
one snare in the march of death

Get up

on the left
on the left, left, right, left
on the left
on the left, left, right, left (but it's just a march of death)
on the left
on the left, left, right, left
on the left
on the left, left, right

here it comes the sound of terror from above
he flex his Texas twisted tongue
the poor lined up to kill in desert slums
for oil that boil beneath the desert sun
now we spit flame to flip this game
all the targets are taking aim
all targets are taking aim
we're the targets are taking aim

left, right, left
left, right, left
left, right

By Zach de la Rocha

The Poet as Hero

You've heard me, scornful, harsh, and discontented,
Mocking and loathing War: you've asked me why
Of my old, silly sweetness I've repented--
My ecstasies changed to an ugly cry.

You are aware that once I sought the Grail,
Riding in armour bright, serene and strong;
And it was told that through my infant wail
There rose immortal semblances of song.

But now I've said good-bye to Galahad,
And am no more the knight of dreams and show:
For lust and senseless hatred make me glad,
And my killed friends are with me where I go.
Wound for red wound I burn to smite their wrongs;
And there is absolution in my songs.

by Siegfried Sassoon
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