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War Poetry
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26th-May-2018 01:00 am - Robert Service, 'Pilgrims'

For oh, when the war will be over
We'll go and we'll look for our dead;
We'll go when the bee's on the clover,
And the plume of the poppy is red:
We'll go when the year's at its gayest,
When meadows are laughing with flow'rs;
And there where the crosses are greyest,
We'll seek for the cross that is ours.

For they cry to us: `Friends, we are lonely,
A-weary the night and the day;
But come in the blossom-time only,
Come when our graves will be gay:
When daffodils all are a-blowing,
And larks are a-thrilling the skies,
Oh, come with the hearts of you glowing,
And the joy of the Spring in your eyes.

`But never, oh, never come sighing,
For ours was the Splendid Release;
And oh, but 'twas joy in the dying
To know we were winning you Peace!
So come when the valleys are sheening,
And fledged with the promise of grain;
And here where our graves will be greening,
Just smile and be happy again.'

And so, when the war will be over,
We'll seek for the Wonderful One;
And maiden will look for her lover,
And mother will look for her son;
And there will be end to our grieving,
And gladness will gleam over loss,
As -- glory beyond all believing!
We point . . . to a name on a cross.

By Robert W. Service
25th-May-2018 01:00 am - Siegfried Sassoon, 'A Letter Home'
A Letter Home

(To Robert Graves)


Here I'm sitting in the gloom
Of my quiet attic room.
France goes rolling all around,
Fledged with forest May has crowned.
And I puff my pipe, calm-hearted,
Thinking how the fighting started,
Wondering when we'll ever end it,
Back to Hell with Kaiser send it,
Gag the noise, pack up and go,
Clockwork soldiers in a row.
I've got better things to do
Than to waste my time on you.


Robert, when I drowse to-night,
Skirting lawns of sleep to chase
Shifting dreams in mazy light,
Somewhere then I'll see your face
Turning back to bid me follow
Where I wag my arms and hollo,
Over hedges hasting after
Crooked smile and baffling laughter,
Running tireless, floating, leaping,
Down your web-hung woods and valleys,
Garden glooms and hornbeam alleys,
Where the glowworm stars are peeping,
Till I find you, quiet as stone
On a hill-top all alone,
Staring outward, gravely pondering
Jumbled leagues of hillock-wandering.


You and I have walked together
In the starving winter weather.
We've been glad because we knew
Time's too short and friends are few.
We've been sad because we missed
One whose yellow head was kissed
By the gods, who thought about him
Till they couldn't do without him.
Now he's here again; I've seen
Soldier David dressed in green,
Standing in a wood that swings
To the madrigal he sings.
He's come back, all mirth and glory,
Like the prince in a fairy story.
Winter called him far away;
Blossoms bring him home with May.


Well, I know you'll swear it's true
That you found him decked in blue
Striding up through morning-land
With a cloud on either hand.
Out in Wales, you'll say, he marches
Arm-in-arm with oaks and larches;
Hides all night in hilly nooks,
Laughs at dawn in tumbling brooks.
Yet, it's certain, here he teaches
Outpost-schemes to groups of beeches.
And I'm sure, as here I stand,
That he shines through every land,
That he sings in every place
Where we're thinking of his face.


Robert, there's a war in France;
Everywhere men bang and blunder,
Sweat and swear and worship Chance,
Creep and blink through cannon thunder.
Rifles crack and bullets flick,
Sing and hum like hornet-swarms.
Bones are smashed and buried quick.
Yet, through stunning battle storms.
All the while I watch the spark
Lit to guide me; for I know
Dreams will triumph, though the dark
Scowls above me where I go.
_You_ can hear me; _you_ can mingle
Radiant folly with my jingle,
War's a joke for me and you
While we know such dreams are true!

By Siegfried Sassoon
23rd-May-2018 01:00 am - Ewart Mackintosh, 'Before The Summer'
Before The Summer

When our men are marching lightly up and down,
When the pipes are playing through the little town,
I see a thin line swaying through wind and mud and rain
And the broken regiments come back to rest again.

Now the pipes are playing, now the drums are beat,
Now the strong battalions are marching up the street,
But the pipes will not be playing, and the bayonets will not shine,
When the regiments I dream of come stumbling down the line.

Between the battered trenches their silent dead will lie
Quiet with grave eyes staring at the summer sky.
There is a mist upon them so that I cannot see
The faces of my friends who walk the little town with me.

Lest we see a worse thing than it is to die,
Live ourselves and see our friends cold beneath the sky,
God grant we too be lying there in wind and mud and rain
Before the broken regiments come stumbling back again.

by Ewart Mackintosh
23rd-May-2018 01:00 am - Janet Hedger, 'In Whom Do I Trust?'
In Whom Do I Trust?

Me mate and me
out on patrol
eyes peeled
for any unrest,
scanning the roofs
for snipers bullets.
A car cruises past
thumping hearts
till it speeds on by
danger imagined.
A rock – skirted
for fear it’s real,
every step
a threat.
A typical day in Iraq.

Then in a vision
comes a woman
in black,
laden with goods
fresh from
the market.
Weighed down
she stumbles
dropping her wares.
Quick as a flash,
my mate races -
across the dusty road.

I meet her look
stomach churning
something’s not right
something is wrong
the body is old
but the eyes are young.

I scream
as the
water melon
in his hand -
into fragments
of man – woman
into pulp of
flesh and bone.

I rock myself
to sleep
that night
full of
full of doubt.

TELL ME; how
can I defend
when I know not
who to trust?

TELL ME; how
can I fight
when I achieve no good?

TELL ME; how
can I fight
in a war that’s unjust?

HOW can I kill
a woman
in cold blood?

all you
politicians back home!

For I do not know
I just don’t know anymore
I just don’t know.

By Janet Hedger
22nd-May-2018 01:00 am - Robert Service, 'The Revelation'
The Revelation

The same old sprint in the morning, boys, to the same old din and smut;
Chained all day to the same old desk, down in the same old rut;
Posting the same old greasy books, catching the same old train:
Oh, how will I manage to stick it all, if I ever get back again?

We've bidden good-bye to life in a cage, we're finished with pushing a pen;
They're pumping us full of bellicose rage, they're showing us how to be men.
We're only beginning to find ourselves; we're wonders of brawn and thew;
But when we go back to our Sissy jobs, -- oh, what are we going to do?

For shoulders curved with the counter stoop will be carried erect and square;
And faces white from the office light will be bronzed by the open air;
And we'll walk with the stride of a new-born pride, with a new-found joy in our eyes,
Scornful men who have diced with death under the naked skies.

And when we get back to the dreary grind, and the bald-headed boss's call,
Don't you think that the dingy window-blind, and the dingier office wall,
Will suddenly melt to a vision of space, of violent, flame-scarred night?
Then . . . oh, the joy of the danger-thrill, and oh, the roar of the fight!

Don't you think as we peddle a card of pins the counter will fade away,
And again we'll be seeing the sand-bag rims, and the barb-wire's misty grey?
As a flat voice asks for a pound of tea, don't you fancy we'll hear instead
The night-wind moan and the soothing drone of the packet that's overhead?

Don't you guess that the things we're seeing now will haunt us through all the years;
Heaven and hell rolled into one, glory and blood and tears;
Life's pattern picked with a scarlet thread, where once we wove with a grey
To remind us all how we played our part in the shock of an epic day?

Oh, we're booked for the Great Adventure now, we're pledged to the Real Romance;
We'll find ourselves or we'll lose ourselves somewhere in giddy old France;
We'll know the zest of the fighter's life; the best that we have we'll give;
We'll hunger and thirst; we'll die . . . but first -- we'll live; by the gods, we'll live!

We'll breathe free air and we'll bivouac under the starry sky;
We'll march with men and we'll fight with men, and we'll see men laugh and die;
We'll know such joy as we never dreamed; we'll fathom the deeps of pain:
But the hardest bit of it all will be -- when we come back home again.

For some of us smirk in a chiffon shop, and some of us teach in a school;
Some of us help with the seat of our pants to polish an office stool;
The merits of somebody's soap or jam some of us seek to explain,
But all of us wonder what we'll do when we have to go back again.

By Robert Service
In Trafalgar Square
(From “Songs of the Army of the Night”)

The stars shone faint through the smoky blue;
The church-bells were ringing;
Three girls, arms laced, were passing through,
Tramping and singing.

Their heads were bare; their short skirts swung
As they went along;
Their scarf-covered breasts heaved up, as they sung
Their defiant song.

It was not too clean, their feminine lay,
But it thrilled me quite
With its challenge to task-master villainous day
And infamous night,

With its threat to the robber rich, the proud,
The respectable free.
And I laughed and shouted to them aloud,
And they shouted to me!

“Girls, that’s the shout, the shout we will utter
When, with rifles and spades,
We stand, with the old Red Flag aflutter,
On the barricades!”

By Francis W. L. Adams (1862–1893)

Revolutions of 1848
20th-May-2018 12:00 am - Jessie Pope, 'Comrades In Arm-lets'
Comrades In Arm-lets

Not theirs the popular uniform
That takes the feminine heart by storm,
And wins soft glances, shy or warm,
The perquisites of pluck.
But theirs the commonplace city kit,
With a blue and white stripe round the sleeve of it,
And a stout little truncheon to do the trick,
If ever they have the luck.

Not theirs to fight on the Allies' wing,
Or even to march with soldierly swing,
While the people are cheering like anything,
To the stirring roll of drums.
But theirs to stand 'neath a pitchy sky.
On a lonely beat, with a vigilant eye
For the skulking shape of a German spy
Who, bother him! never comes.

By night they guard though possibly bored
Those places where light and water are stored,
And since the family can't be ignored
Business as usual by day.
Though sport may be scanty compared with the blanks,
They're doing their level, the armletted ranks,
With no expectation of ha'pence or thanks,
For that is the S.C.'s way.

By Jessie Pope
Dirge for a Soldier

Close his eyes; his work is done!
What to him is friend or foeman,
Rise of moon, or set of sun,
Hand of man, or kiss of woman?
Lay him low, lay him low,
In the clover or the snow!
What cares he? he can not know:
Lay him low!

As man may, he fought his fight,
Proved his truth by his endeavor;
Let him sleep in solemn night,
Sleep forever and forever.
Lay him low, lay him low,
In the clover or the snow!
What cares he? he can not know:
Lay him low!

Fold him in his country's stars,
Roll the drum and fire the volley!
What to him are all our wars,
What but death bemocking folly?
Lay him low, lay him low,
In the clover or the snow!
What cares he? he can not know:
Lay him low!

Leave him to God's watching eye,
Trust him to the hand that made him.
Mortal love weeps idly by:
God alone has power to aid him,
Lay him low, lay him low,
In the clover or the snow!
What cares he? he can not know:
Lay him low!

by George H. Boker
18th-May-2018 01:00 am - Alice Corbin, 'Fallen'


He was wounded and he fell in the midst of hoarse shouting.
The tide passed, and the waves came and whispered about his ankles.
Far off he heard a cock crow -- children laughing,
Rising at dawn to greet the storm of petals
Shaken from apple-boughs; he heard them cry,
And turned again to find the breast of her,
And sank confusèd with a little sigh...
Thereafter water running, and a voice
That seemed to stir and flutter through the trenches
And set dead lips to talking...

Wreckage was mingled with the storm of petals...

He felt her near him, and the weight dropped off --

by Alice Corbin

We Are Accused Of Terrorism

We are accused of terrorism
If we dare to write about the remains of a homeland
That is scattered in pieces and in decay
In decadence and disarray
About a homeland that is searching for a place
And about a nation that no longer has a face

About a homeland that has nothing left of its great ancient verse
But that of wailing and eulogy

About a homeland that has nothing in its horizons
Of freedoms of different types and ideology

About a homeland that forbids us from buying a newspaper
Or listen to anything
About a homeland where all birds are always not allowed to sing
About a homeland that out of horror, its writers are using invisible ink

About a homeland that resembles poetry in our country
Improvised, imported, loose and of no boundaries
Of foreign tongue and soul
Detached from Man and Land, ignoring their plight as a whole

About a homeland to the negotiating table moves
Without a dignity or shoes

About a homeland
That no more has steadfast men
With only women therein

Bitterness is in our mouthsin our talkin our eyes
Will draught also plague our souls as a legacy passed to us
from ancient times?

Our nation has nobody left, even the less glorified
No one to say 'NO' in the face of those who gave up our
homebread and butter
Turning our colorful history into a circus

We have not a single honest poem
That has not lost its virginity in a ruler's Harem

We grew accustomed to humiliation
Then what is left of Man
If he is comfortable with that?

I search the books of history
For men of greatness to deliver us from darkness
To save our women from fires' brutality

I search for men of yesterday
But all I find is frightened cats
Fearing for their souls
From the authority of rats

Are we hit by national blindness
Or are we suffering from color blindness

We are accused of terrorism
If we refuse to perish
Under Israeli tyranny
That is hampering our unity
Our history
Our Bible and our Quran
Our prophets' land
If that is our sin and crime
Then terrorism is fine

We are accused of terrorism
If we refuse to be wiped out
By barbarians, the Mongols or the Jews
If we choose to stone the fragile security council
Which was sacked by the king of caesuras

We are accused of terrorism
If we refuse to negotiate the wolf
And reach out for a whore

America is fighting the cultures of Man
Because it lacks one
And against the civilizations because it needs one
It is a gigantic structure but without a wall

We are accused of terrorism
If we refuse current times
Where America the arrogant the mighty the rich
Became a sworn interpreter of Hebrew.

By Nizar Qabbani
16th-May-2018 02:00 am - Margaret Sackville, 'A Memory'
A Memory

There was no sound at all, no crying in the village,
Nothing you would count as sound, that is, after the shells;
Only behind a wall the low sobbing of women,
The creaking of a door, a lost dog-nothing else.
Silence which might be felt, no pity in the silence,
Horrible, soft like blood, down all the blood-stained ways;
In the middle of the street two corpses lie unburied,
And a bayoneted woman stares in the market-place.
Humble and ruined folk-for these no pride of conquest,
Their only prayer: "O Lord, give us our daily bread!"
Not by the battle fires, the shrapnel are we haunted;
Who shall deliver us from the memory of these dead?

by Margaret Sackville
16th-May-2018 01:00 am - David Rovics, 'Israeli Geography 101'
Israeli Geography 101

Netanyahu is in a tizzy, his eyes are filled with hate
He said the problem with those Arabs is they won't recognize a Jewish state
He said those Palestinians just won't come around
To accepting Jewish rule on their holy ground
He said the Arabs don't accept their new neighbors in the 'hood
Those ungrateful regimes don't respect us as they should
Well I don't want to upset anyone or to unduly take to task
But if a state wants recognition it seems reasonable to ask
Where are your borders drawn in black and white?
Do they include the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights?

I heard him speaking to the Congress, getting his 29th standing o
He said we need our security from those terrorists, don't you know
If you want security, I wonder if you'd say it's true
That the Palestinians should have security too
'Cause if you want security it seems only fair
That you should also grant it to the people over there
And maybe you could answer, though the question is a sin
Just where your country ends and your neighbors' lands begin
Tell me, where are your borders drawn in black and white?
Do they include the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights?

He said we're the only democracy in the Middle East
Or actually, he said, the only viable one at least
The PA isn't viable 'cause they didn't vote Abbas
They voted for those terrorists that they call Hamas
So we can't recognize them -- though we wish they would agree
That we stole their land quite fairly here by the Mediterranean Sea
We stole it fair and square -- we stole it just like you
If you don't like you're an anti-Semite -- whether you're a Muslim or a Jew
OK, right. But tell me -- where are your borders drawn in black and white?
Do they include the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights?

By David Rovics

15th-May-2018 01:00 am - Ramzy Baroud, 'Your Nakba, And Mine'
Your Nakba, and Mine – A Poem

When your grandfather deserted his horse
At the lower edge of the Pacific
My family’s steed was still grazing
By the southern hills of Palestine
Your Nakba started before mine
But mine is yet to end.

Your name is molded to mean many things
And signify nothing
Mine is ‘gun powder’
The bones of my ancestors keep the mountains of Galilee standing
My cousins are the ones holding the Gaza fort
Against the invading Khazars.

Our ruggedness might not suit your taste
But we inherited the language of the trees
So that the legacy of olives and figs may live through our children
Until we harvest the remaining citrus of Beit Daras
And redraw our music to rhyme with love and life
And everything in between.

I have to fight to preserve the essence of my name
And I mustn’t die – as of yet
Until my children are old enough to inherit their grandmother’s Thoub
And return to the very road between hope and exile
Looking for her childhood
Amid dying peasants.

So don’t talk to me about pain
For I plead at every border just to prove that my face in the photo is my face
And that my home exists between the port of Haifa and eternity
And the blood of my father was the same blood that drenched the skin of Jesus
After he was caught at a Roman military checkpoint
Hiding a poem about love
And a recipe for revolution.

And don’t talk to me about love
For mine are the roots of a thousand olive trees
And the echoes of the war songs of all the men of Jaffa
Before the last battle was lost to the brutes of the pitiless north
And all the love letters of refugee women
Sent to suspended men at crosses
Overlooking the Martyrs Graveyard
Bordering my house, and what remains of yours

And Yet,
I love you still
Because in your eyes I see my beginnings
And the promise that my assured passage into forgetfulness
.. will never end.

By Ramzy Baroud

Nakba Day, May 15

The Palestinian Nakba ('Catastrophe'), 1948
Their Strange Eyes Hold No Vision

Their strange eyes hold no vision, as a rule;
No dizzy glory. A still look is theirs,
But rather as one subtly vacant stares,
Watching the circling magic of a pool.

Now when the morning firing becomes tame,
Out in the warming sun he tries to guess
Which battery they’re after. “Let me see;
Which battery is there? which battery?
I wonder which…..” Again, again, the same
Returning question, idle, meaningless.
Startled, he sighs—or laughs—or softly swears;
Mutteringly something of dear names declares
In the bitter cruelty of tenderness.

The planes drift low, circling monotonously,
Droning like many a drowsy bumble-bee
Some summer morning. Only now and then
A whining shell, the mere formality
Of stupid war, calls back his thoughts again.

Suddenly near the unseen death swoops low,
Laughing and singing; and full pitifully
The startled eyes stare wide, but do not see
The whirling features of the genie foe,
Safe in his summoned cloud. The quiet skies
Tell not his surest comings. With waved wands
A mist springs from the earth, and swaying stands
A veiling moment ….. sinks ….. And there he lies
Face down, clutching the clay with warm dead hands.

By Howard Buck
Pervasive Rhetoric War

with declared war on terrorism war
is promoted as a nationalistic virtue
by shadow governments who continue
to kill peace makers opposed to war

By Terence George Craddock
13th-May-2018 01:00 am - Tawfiq Zayyad, 'With My Teeth'
With My Teeth

with my teeth I'll protect
every inch of my homeland
With my teeth.
Nothing can replace the homeland for me
even if they would hang me
with my own veins.
I stay
a prisoner of my love
for the fence that surrounds my house
for the dew on the bowing lily.
I stay
unvanquished by every hardness.
I stay
I'll protect every inch of my homeland
With my teeth

By Tawfiq Zayyad

Israel amassing its forces ahead of Nakba protests
Fetching The Wounded

At the road's end glimmer the station lights;
How small beneath the immense hollow of Night's
Lonely and living silence! Air that raced
And tingled on the eyelids as we faced
The long road stretched between the poplars flying
To the dark behind us, shuddering and sighing
With phantom foliage, lapses into hush.
Magical supersession! The loud rush
Swims into quiet: midnight reassumes
Its solitude; there's nothing but great glooms,
Blurred stars; whispering gusts; the hum of wires.
And swerving leftwards upon noiseless tires
We glide over the grass that smells of dew.
A wave of wonder bathes my body through!
For there in the headlamps' gloom--surrounded beam
Tall flowers spring before us, like a dream,
Each luminous little green leaf intimate
And motionless, distinct and delicate
With powdery white bloom fresh upon the stem,
As if that clear beam had created them
Out of the darkness. Never so intense
I felt the pang of beauty's innocence,
Earthly and yet unearthly. A sudden call!
We leap to ground, and I forget it all.
Each hurries on his errand; lanterns swing;
Dark shapes cross and re--cross the rails; we bring
Stretchers, and pile and number them; and heap
The blankets ready. Then we wait and keep
A listening ear. Nothing comes yet; all's still.
Only soft gusts upon the wires blow shrill
Fitfully, with a gentle spot of rain.
Then, ere one knows it, the long gradual train
Creeps quietly in and slowly stops. No sound
But a few voices' interchange. Around
Is the immense night--stillness, the expanse
Of faint stars over all the wounds of France.

Now stale odour of blood mingles with keen
Pure smell of grass and dew. Now lantern--sheen
Falls on brown faces opening patient eyes
And lips of gentle answers, where each lies
Supine upon his stretcher, black of beard
Or with young cheeks; on caps and tunics smeared
And stained, white bandages round foot or head
Or arm, discoloured here and there with red.
Sons of all corners of wide France; from Lille,
Douay, the land beneath the invader's heel,
Champagne, Touraine, the fisher--villages
Of Brittany, the valleyed Pyrenees,
Blue coasts of the South, old Paris streets. Argonne
Of ever smouldering battle, that anon
Leaps furious, brothered them in arms. They fell
In the trenched forest scarred with reeking shell.
Now strange the sound comes round them in the night
Of English voices. By the wavering light
Quickly we have borne them, one by one, to the air,
And sweating in the dark lift up with care,
Tense--sinewed, each to his place. The cars at last
Complete their burden: slowly, and then fast
We glide away. And the dim round of sky,
Infinite and silent, broods unseeingly
Over the shadowy uplands rolling black
Into far woods, and the long road we track
Bordered with apparitions, as we pass,
Of trembling poplars and lamp--whitened grass,
A brief procession flitting like a thought
Through a brain drowsing into slumber; nought
But we awake in the solitude immense!
But hurting the vague dumbness of my sense
Are fancies wandering the night: there steals
Into my heart, like something that one feels
In darkness, the still presence of far homes
Lost in deep country, and in little rooms
The vacant bed. I touch the world of pain
That is so silent. Then I see again
Only those infinitely patient faces
In the lantern beam, beneath the night's vast spaces,
Amid the shadows and the scented dew;
And those illumined flowers, springing anew
In freshness like a smile of secrecy
From the gloom--buried earth, return to me.
The village sleeps; blank walls, and windows barred.
But lights are moving in the hushed courtyard
As we glide up to the open door. The Chief
Gives every man his order, prompt and brief.
We carry up our wounded, one by one.
The first cock crows: the morrow is begun.

By Laurence Binyon
‘As the Team’s Head Brass’

As the team’s head-brass flashed out on the turn
The lovers disappeared into the wood.
I sat among the boughs of the fallen elm
That strewed the angle of the fallow, and
Watched the plough narrowing a yellow square
Of charlock. Every time the horses turned
Instead of treading me down, the ploughman leaned
Upon the handles to say or ask a word,
About the weather, next about the war.
Scraping the share he faced towards the wood,
And screwed along the furrow till the brass flashed
Once more.
The blizzard felled the elm whose crest
I sat in, by a woodpecker’s round hole,
The ploughman said. ‘When will they take it away? ‘
‘When the war’s over.’ So the talk began –
One minute and an interval of ten,
A minute more and the same interval.
‘Have you been out? ‘ ‘No.’ ‘And don’t want to, perhaps? ‘
‘If I could only come back again, I should.
I could spare an arm, I shouldn’t want to lose
A leg. If I should lose my head, why, so,
I should want nothing more…Have many gone
From here? ‘ ‘Yes.’ ‘Many lost? ‘ ‘Yes, a good few.
Only two teams work on the farm this year.
One of my mates is dead. The second day
In France they killed him. It was back in March,
The very night of the blizzard, too. Now if
He had stayed here we should have moved the tree.’
‘And I should not have sat here. Everything
Would have been different. For it would have been
Another world.’ ‘Ay, and a better, though
If we could see all all might seem good.’ Then
The lovers came out of the wood again:
The horses started and for the last time
I watched the clods crumble and topple over
After the ploughshare and the stumbling team.

by Edward Thomas
10th-May-2018 01:00 am - Diane Wakoski, 'Bell Bottom Trousers'
Bell Bottom Trousers

bell bottom trousers, coat of navy blue,
she loves a sailor and he loves her too.
—Guy Lombardo WWII song lyric

Mine were brown velvet,
lush as sable. ’70s wide and swinging,
swirling outward from my calves,
vaquero rhythmed, and very expensive,
the cost of a ’40s war savings-bond. Driving across
America, alone in Green Greed
—or was it the Fox-brown Audi?—
I laid them flat across the backseat, like hero’s flags,
covered them with a Mexican serape,
keeping them intact, uncrushed, ready for The Visit.
The Evening. The Expanse-of-Pacific-wrapped-around-me-Event,
where I would wear them.

When the night collapsed into next day,
and I fell—alone—into my motel room king-sized bed,
like a duffle bag thrown into a locker,
sleeping the salty sleep of a girl who dreams of oceans and the man
coracled upon it, I flung
the bell bottoms onto the foot
of the bed, where the tossed heavy-textured spread covered them
during my flailing night, thus
causing their
I leaving them, not unlike my sailor-father
leaving me.
The bell bottoms
next morning, forgotten,
in my haste to travel on.

That’s what I am thinking about
forty years later,
I left them behind, and
just to fill you in on my concern, I who hate telephones,
did call the next day,
but they said no one had found them. That’s
what they said.
Unlike my bookkeeper mother,
I don’t keep a list
of items left behind, yet these
brown-as-my-father’s-eyes trousers swirl
into history. They seem memorable like a
lost ring, topaz or sardonyx carved into a cameo.
They’ve conjured images of my father’s sea duty
to the Aleutians—bears hibernating—
or Pearl Harbor—yellow hibiscus worn behind an ear.
They floated, a topaz,
fallen brown-faceted and envious
of its setting,
my missing sailor pants,
worn in the days when I used to dance—
short breaths like the exhale of cigarette smoke,
animating the free swing of bell bottoms. A
small mishap in one
of many journeys, just a memory,
like the folded flag,
I can’t let go of.

By Diane Wakoski
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