Two Poems For Memorial Day

While this first poem was written for England’s “Remembrance Day” –which is our Veteran’s Day, in November, I thought the sentiment was appropriate for today as well.  Poem was found here. 

Prayer for Remembrance Day

For those who were killed in battle,
For those who gave up their lives to save others
For those who fought because they were forced to,
For those who died standing up for a just cause
For those who said war was wrong,
For those who tried to make the peace
For those who prayed when others had no time to pray
For those creatures who needlessly die
For those trees that needlessly are slaughtered
For all of mankind

let us quietly pray:

May your God hold them in peace
May Love flow over the Earth and cleanse us all
This day and for always.

Marianne Griffin
11am 11 November 2004

And secondly, a poem which makes us think about what it means to still be at war, and for it to be so normalized in our everyday lives.  Along with remembering our fallen soldiers, on Memorial Day we should also think about the wider context of those losses, and the losses that continue to occur overseas everyday.  I have copied it in its entirety from this blog post on Split This Rock.  (STR–let me know if you would rather I excerpt and link, rather than copy everything).

for Shara McCallum 

walk long enough
with a pebble in your shoe
and walking with a pebble becomes

you no longer notice
the discomfort………..the limp is just
another thing to live with
pain just another fact of life

until someone you haven’t seen for a time
asks……Why are you limping
and you remember
Oh yes, that’s right –
I have a pebble in my shoe

and then what do you do
take it out…….leave it in because
you are used to its dull and constant ache
do not want to learn how to walk properly again

live long enough
with war
and it becomes

men and women you don’t know –
someone else’s children –
fly off the edges of the map
to places you were never taught existed

photos of the dead close out
nightly news programs………a familiar tag-
line as the anchor signs off
until tomorrow

images of troops march across
a strange topography….the sound of guns
going off in places so distant
you hardly notice…….. one barely hears a noise

until someone says
We’ve been at war my entire adult life
and you remember
Oh, yes, that’s right –
there IS a war still going on

And then what do you do?

-Reginald Harris

Used by permission.

Poetry in the Branches Coordinator for Poets House in New York City, Reginald Harris was a Finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and the ForeWord Book of the Year for 10 Tongues: Poems (2001). A Pushcart Prize Nominee and recipient of Individual Artist Awards for both poetry and fiction from the Maryland State Arts Council, his work has appeared in numerous journals,anthologies, and other publications. Contributor to LGBTQ America Today: An Encyclopedia (2008), he is currently pretending to work on two manuscripts.

Harris was on the panels Gay and Lesbian Poetry in the 40th Year Since StonewallHistory, Craft, Equality and Black LGBTQ Writing as Agents of Change at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

Split This Rock

(If you are not already a reader of Split This Rock, you should be! The work that is shared on their blog is powerful, thought-provoking, beautiful and poignant.  Everyone should sign up for their email list or RSS feed so that you can read all the fantastic work posted there.–JVoor) 

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