T Nation

Soldier's Christmas Poem

Different Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,

I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.

My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,

My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,

Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,

Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,

Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.

In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,

So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,

But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.

Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know, Then the

sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,

And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,

A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,

Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.

Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,

Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,

"Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,

You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,

Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts…

To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light

Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,

I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night."

"It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,

That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,

I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at ’ Pearl on a day in December,"

Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas 'Gram always remembers.”

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ’ Nam ',

And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,

But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,

The red, white, and blue… an American flag.

I can live through the cold and the being alone,

Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,

I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.

I can carry the weight of killing another,

Or lay down my life with my sister and brother…

Who stand at the front against any and all,

To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

“So go back inside,” he said, "harbor no fright,

Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right."

"But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,

“Give you money,” I asked, "or prepare you a feast?

It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,

For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,

"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.

To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,

To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,

To know you remember we fought and we bled.

Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,

That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Dulce et Decorum Est
by Wilfrid Owen (1917)

Bent double, like of old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind:
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound�??ring like a man in fire or lime�?�
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in sonic smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil�??s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not talk with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

On Being Asked for a War Poem

William Butler Yeats (1928)

I think it better that in times like these
A poet�??s mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of meddling who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth,
Or an old man upon a winter�??s night.

War Is Kind
by Stephen Crane (1899)

Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind,
Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
Little souls who thirst for fight,
These men were born to drill and die.
The unexplained glory flies above them.
Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom–
A field where a thousand corpses lie.

Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
Because your father tumbles in the yellow trenches,
Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

Swift blazing flag of the regiment,
Eagle with crest of red and gold,
These men were born to drill and die.
Point for them the virtue of slaughter,
Make plain to them the excellence of killing
And a field where a thousand corpses lie.

Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

Nefarious War
by Li Po

Translated from the Chinese by Shigeyoshi Obata

Last year we fought by the head-stream of the So-Kan,
This year we are fighting on the Tsung-ho road.
We have washed our armor in the waves of the Chiao-chi lake,
We have pastured our horses on Tien-shan’s snowy slopes.
The long, long war goes on ten thousand miles from home.
Our three armies are worn and grown old.

The barbarian does man-slaughter for plowing;
On his yellow sand-plains nothing has been seen but blanched skulls and bones.
Where the Chin emperor built the walls against the Tartars,
There the defenders of Han are burning beacon fires.
The beacon fires burn and never go out.
There is no end to war!–

In the battlefield men grapple each other and die;
The horses of the vanquished utter lamentable cries to heaven,
While ravens and kites peck at human entrails,
Carry them up in their flight, and hang them on the branches of dead trees.
So, men are scattered and smeared over the desert grass,
And the generals have accomplished nothing.

Oh, nefarious war! I see why arms
Were so seldom used by the benign sovereigns.

How To Kill

  Under the parabola of a ball,
  a child turning into a man,
  I looked into the air too long.
  The ball fell in my hand, it sang
  in the closed fist: Open Open
  Behold a gift designed to kill.

  Now in my dial of glass appears
  the soldier who is going to die.
  He smiles, and moves about in ways
  his mother knows, habits of his.
  The wires touch his face: I cry
  NOW. Death, like a familiar, hears

  and look, has made a man of dust
  of a man of flesh. This sorcery
  I do. Being damned, I am amused
  to see the centre of love diffused
  and the wave of love travel into vacancy.
  How easy it is to make a ghost.

  The weightless mosquito touches
  her tiny shadow on the stone,
  and with how like, how infinite
  a lightness, man and shadow meet.
  They fuse. A shadow is a man
  when the mosquito death approaches.

Keith Douglas

Green Beret
(Vietnam War)

  He was twelve years old,
  and I do not know his name.
  The mercenaries took him and his father,
  whose name I do not know,
  one morning upon the High Plateau.
  Green beret looked down on the frail boy
  with the eyes of a hurt animal and thought,
  a good fright will make him talk.
  He commanded, and the father was taken away
  behind the forest's green wall.
  "Right kid tell us where they are,
  tell us where or your father - dead."
  With eyes now bright and filled with terror
  the slight boy said nothing.
  "You've got one minute kid," said Green Beret,
  "tell us where or we kill father"
  and thrust his wrist-watch against a face all eyes,
  the second-hand turning, jerking on its way.
  "Ok boy ten seconds to tell us where they are"
  In the last instant the silver hand shattered the
  sky and the forest of trees.
  "Kill the old guy" roared Green Beret
  and shots hammered out
  behind the forest's green wall
  and sky and trees and soldiers stood
  in silence, and the boy cried out.
  Green Beret stood
  in silence, as the boy crouched down
  and shook with tears,
  as children do when their father dies.
  Christ, said one mercenary to Green beret,
  "h didn't know a damn thing
  we killed the old guy for nothing."
  So they all went away,
  green beret and his mercenaries.

  And the boy knew everything.
  He knew everything about them, the caves,
  the trails, the hidden places and the names,
  and in the moment that he cried out,
  in that same instant,
  protected by frail tears
  far stronger than any wall of steel,
  they passed everywhere
  like tigers
  across the High Plateau.

Ho Thein

God Bless America

Here they go again,
The Yanks in their armoured parade
Chanting their ballads of joy
As they gallop across the big world
Praising America�??s God.

The gutters are clogged with the dead
The ones who couldn�??t join in
The others refusing to sing
The ones who are losing their voice
The ones who�??ve forgotten the tune.

The riders have whips which cut.
Your head rolls onto the sand
Your head is a pool in the dirt
Your head is a stain in the dust
Your eyes have gone out and your nose
Sniffs only the pong of the dead
And all the dead air is alive
With the smell of America�??s God.

Creating Patriots

They wrapped my son in the flag today

told him to pledge his allegiance

swear to not treason

all without reason

for the country that invaded another

the country of my mother

the CIA undercover

killing the man elected by another

mindset, quick-step, don??t step

on the red, white and blue

we say, yes, we can represent you

bring democracy to your country too

at the price of economic destruction

internal revolution

division of families

death and destruction

we will rebuild and empower a new leader

for all you decrepit, pathetic and ignorant people

we will repatriate, dominate

and take your natural resources

build gorgeous golf courses

occupy with no remorse

drink your wine, fuck your women

educate your children so they can be good Christians

not the heathen brethren the

God you love is not from our heaven.

They wrapped my son in the flag today

in an American classroom

under-funded and plundered

by the hypocrite war machine

an underpaid teacher, speaking rhetoric

the party line, stay on the line

donâ??t deviate, don’t question

for fear of retribution

in the form of pointed fingers

tongues wagging, tagging

you, you’re unpatriotic

clearly neurotic, a fucking liberal

who dares to speak out

dares to shout out

dares to stamp out

dares to be silenced.

They wrapped my son in the flag today

and on top of that now say he must pray

just a moment of silence to reflect on the day

write a letter to the troops to say hooray

who the hell are they to say

I am un-American.

Because at 8 years old

I don’t believe he should be told

what he cannot understand

and recite it with his right hand

on his heart as if that can protect

his mind.

Tina Borja

Anthem for Doomed Youth

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
1893-1918

Incitement To Disobedience

I wish that I were able to incite
Young men in every land to disobey
For wars will cease when men refuse to fight.

To kill our brothers for a nations right
Is not a method we can use today.
I wish that I were able to incite.

When leaders threaten to resort to might,
I know that idols all have feet of clay.
For wars will cease when men refuse to fight.

The cause of peace is shared by black and white
And freedom fighters show a better way.
I wish that I were able to incite.

Non-violent resistance has no bite
While undecided pacifists delay.
For wars will cease when men refuse to fight.

With power to reinforce in what I write
The things that protest-singers try to say,
I wish that I were able to incite
For wars will cease when men refuse to fight.

  • Tom Earley

Heroes From Our Past
by the Dropkick Murphys

And so the story’s told of a hearty group of men it’s a tale of their triumphs and their woes.
Be it raids and melees ancient or the modern worker’s struggle
that inspires men to stand up for their rights.
And should we fall down by the wayside in this ever-changing world
we can look back to these heroes of our past.
With their staunch determination and ferocious iron will,
no tyranny would quell them in their task.

It’s an age-old situation with an ever-present message:
that time and tide waiteth for no man.
So without fear of confrontation of the consequence of outcome,
it’s for freedom and for happiness they toiled.
An in looking to the future,
we can see a better place where we can shake the yoke of tyranny for all.
It’s been paved by generations who have gone now to their rest.
It’s just remembrance of their dignity we ask.

So come on rally round this brave and valiant cause with tradition, pride, and honor at its core.
With swords drawn to defend stood these noble-hearted men fág an bealach,
clear the way, me boys!!

Under perilous conditions with small hope of success they left behind the lives that they once led
and by virtue of their fortitude and single-minded strength
they cleared the way for the people of today
so when we think back to our ancestors respectfully we hark
and thank the men whose struggle broke the chain it’s a long road up ahead of us
let’s forge on while we’re strong and leave our mark of honor once again

So the story has been told and it comes now to an end.
It’s setting any era, any land.
When abusive tyrants force the hands of matters great or small,
it inpires men to stand up for their rights.

The ones who fought

I saw poppies and trenches, About two years ago.

I was fascinated by what I saw; gravestones row on row.

I saw the Menin Gate, it loomed above my head

I found a Canadian relative, on there because he was dead

I saw my uncle’s badge; found it in a tin

I asked my grandpa why; he said ‘they had to win’

I saw my grandparents’ photo, up there on the wall

My gran in her wartime wedding dress, by a soldier standing tall

I met an old lady, she was a WAAF, and not so frail

Machined gunned in the street, and lived to tell the tale!

She had a look in her eyes, a passion, a memory, a clue

I asked her how she felt, she said,’ We did what we had to do’

I found my grandpa’s medals, hidden in a draw

I think he should be proud, of what he did in the war

Onor Crummay

OP, Thanks for the poem. I know a number of people serving in different places in the military, and I respect their efforts greatly.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army
IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Thanks for your addition Subdivision.

It’s good to remember the men and women who are keeping us safe and standing watch.

In Your Honor

Unselfishly, you left your fathers and your mothers, You left behind your sisters and your brothers. Leaving your beloved children and wives, You put on hold, your dreams�??your lives.
On foreign soil, you found yourself planted To fight for those whose freedom you granted. Without your sacrifice, their cause would be lost But you carried onward, no matter the cost.

Many horrors you had endured and seen. Many faces had haunted your dreams. You cheered as your enemies littered the ground; You cried as your brothers fell all around.

When it was over, you all came back home, Some were left with memories to face all alone; Some found themselves in the company of friends As their crosses cast shadows across the land.

Those who survived were forever scarred Emotionally, physically, permanently marred. Those who did not now sleep eternally �??Neath the ground they had given their lives to keep free.

With a hand upon my heart, I feel The pride and respect; my reverence is revealed In the tears that now stream down my upturned face As our flag waves above you, in her glory and grace. Freedom was the gift that you unselfishly gave Pain and death was the price that you ultimately paid. Every day, I give my utmost admiration To those who had fought to defend our nation.

The Corpsman’s Christmas Poem

"'Twas the night before Christmas as I flew o’er the Marine Base, when I
spied a young man who seemed out of place.
His eyes showed compassion, his hair a bit long, but his head was held high
and his body was strong…

His air was confident, his uniform smart, but what impressed me most was the
size of his heart.
For he embodied honor, one of this country’s best, and the words U.S.
NAVY showed large on his chest.

As I stood there in wonder and gazed into his eyes, the words that he spoke
took me quite by surprise.
“What’s wrong Santa, haven’t you ever seen a sailor before?”
I sensed something special and longed to know more.

“To be honest, this field thing wasn’t part of my plan, but God didn’t give
me a boat or tin can.”
The words he spoke next surprised me all the more, “But I’m as proud of my
Navy as I am of the Corps!”

"Don’t worry Santa, that I’m a sailor you see, for when a Marine goes down
they will still call on me.
They’ll forget I’m a sailor, they’ll call in my stock.
At the top of their lungs they’ll yell ,“Get me the doc!”

“And I’ll answer that call, anytime, anywhere.
Though I know I’m a target I really don’t care.
I’ll face incoming fire as I race cross the land, and use my very own body
to shield a downed man.”

“Working long hours and into the night,
my unit’s battle is over, but I’m just starting to fight.
For the life of every Marine is sacred to me.
I refuse to surrender them to death, and in that I’ll find victory.”

"And yet I’ll take the time to comfort a dying man, to sit down by his side,
to reach out and hold his hand.
For it takes as much courage to care as to fight.
For just as the poem says, many don’t “go gently into the night.”

“Santa, it’s not any one uniform that makes you a man, but rather it’s those
ideals for which you choose to stand.
I draw my line here, it’s long and it’s plain.
For pain, hurt and suffering are the things I disdain.”

I know very well that I may lose my life, so that a Marine may see an unmet
child and his young wife.
So Santa, it really doesn’t matter if they don’t like my hair.
I’m a Navy Corpsman, their Doc, and I’ll always be there."

“I follow the brave docs who have come long before, from Belleau Wood, Iwo,
and Lebanon’s shore.
As history proudly shows, they all gave their best, and for those who have
died, surely they’re blessed.”

“At Inchon, the gulf and times during Tet, our brothers have fallen, but we
carry on yet.
For we hold their honor and legacy still.”
As I held back my tears it took all of my will.

I had to leave him there for I had other plans, but I knew in my heart that
the Corps is in good hands.
As I flew away I heard his laughter, it rang so loud and clear.
“Hey Santa, how 'bout a nice pair of boots for the 26 miler next year?”

Eulogy

  It happens on a Monday, at 11:20 A.M.,
  as tower guards eat sandwiches
  and seagulls drift by on the Tigris River.
  Prisoners tilt their heads to the west
  though burlap sacks and duct tape blind them.
  The sound reverberates down concertina coils
  the way piano wire thrums when given slack.
  And it happens like this, on a blue day of sun,
  when Private Miller pulls the trigger
  to take brass and fire into his mouth:
  the sound lifts the birds up off the water,
  a mongoose pauses under the orange trees,
  and nothing can stop it now, no matter what
  blur of motion surrounds him, no matter what voices
  crackle over the radio in static confusion,
  because if only for this moment the earth is stilled,
  and Private Miller has found what low hush there is
  down in the eucalyptus shade, there by the river.
     
                                                                                      PFC B. Miller
                                                                (1980-March 22, 2004)

Soldiers
by Carey Lenehan
Soldiers, soldiers, everywhere, with no good wars to fight
How do you flex your muscles, the weapons of your might?
Where do you go to kill these days, false enemies in sight?
How do you earn the wages paid? Through false created blight?

Embroiled in eternally unresolved conflicts
That let you earn your daily bread through long established rifts
You are warriors for fatheads, for economic shift
Feathering their filthy nests, blindly turning tricks

Prostitutes of sordid death, paid to broker peace
Where peace would reign uneasily, without you at the feast
Marching out with weapons cloaked, bullying the meek
Masked behind a war machine we laymen can’t unleash

Step back upon command from all injustice wielded
Run from the needless fight, within your barracks shielded
Draw guns to save yourselves alone, not innocents who yielded
Who raised stained hands, to bat away the missiles not being fielded

Remember when this world was pure and life counted for more
Remember somewhere, someone is eternally keeping score
Rise up my sons and represent the put upon, the poor
Destroy the progress of these filthy harbingers of war

Oh soldiers, soldiers everywhere, please see the things you do
The innocents who fall aside, not as strong as you
The unprotected, underfed, with skin of the wrong hue
Stand with honour, change their skies from darkest black to blue

Ignore the ghoulish, greedy cats who use you for their gain
Refuse to fight in unjust wars to satisfy their aims
Remember what your honour means, protect the weak and maimed
Fight only for freedom, or for justice, an end to power games

So soldiers, soldiers everywhere, lay down your bloodied arms
Come home to keep your families safe from needless harm
Smash the kings of industry who tell us all is calm
And deny the politicians who destroy our peace with charm