war remnants…

his matted graying dreadlocks
stream from his pitted memories of war
flowing over shoulders once adorned
with stars and stripes
now hosting only the ghost of yesterday’s meal
served by some holy roller kitchen
where would-be-saints
dish out equal servings of pious gruel
with side dishes of soul cooking
trying to save a soul
that has long vacated the premises
evicted by the good citizens of oz
for failing to whistle a happy tune
while scavenging the streets for dignity
or just some remnant of self

16 thoughts on “war remnants…

  1. Trying to protect his students’ innocence
    he told them the Ice Age was really just
    the Chilly Age, a period of a million years
    when everyone had to wear sweaters.

    And the Stone Age became the Gravel Age,
    named after the long driveways of the time.

    The Spanish Inquisition was nothing more
    than an outbreak of questions such as
    “How far is it from here to Madrid?”
    “What do you call the matador’s hat?”

    The War of the Roses took place in a garden,
    and the Enola Gay dropped one tiny atom on Japan.

    The children would leave his classroom
    for the playground to torment the weak
    and the smart,
    mussing up their hair and breaking their glasses,

    while he gathered up his notes and walked home
    past flower beds and white picket fences,
    wondering if they would believe that soldiers
    in the Boer War told long, rambling stories
    designed to make the enemy nod off.

    (Billy Collins, The History Teacher)

    And one of his students would reply:

    What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
    Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
    Can patter out their hasty orisons.
    No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
    Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,–
    The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
    And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

    What candles may be held to speed them all?
    Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
    Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
    The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
    Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
    And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

    (Wilfred Owen, Anthem for Doomed Youth)

  2. Damn man..you’ve got to stop this. Smack on target. It would take many, 5000 words to connote what you do in so few lines.

    You’re a real deal.


  3. You don’t pull punches, or try not to. I especially liked the lines/image of the pious gruel with the side of soul food (real food).

    PS. my brief experience with a community kitchen was VERY different, maybe I was lucky

  4. Nice choices. These past few poems have been truly beautiful. Very modern take on the war veteran thing. I love it–and thank you for all the kind words on zatetic!

  5. like this:

    evicted by the good citizens of oz
    for failing to whistle a happy tune
    while scavenging the streets for dignity
    or just some remnant of self

    Dignity or self, seems an impossible quest.

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