Just bitchin', poem

A Page Turns…

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A tiny thing has vanished.

Like the barest tip of an iceberg, its disappearance signifies something much bigger. Something as vast as sorrow and as limitless as history.

Every year, no matter where I’ve lived, the weekend of Veteran’s Day will find an elderly gentleman sporting a military hat, or sometimes a chest of medals, sitting at a small table, handing out red, paper poppies in exchange for a small donation. Often these simple tokens are handed out for free when  their bright color catches a child’s wide, untutored eye. It’s just a pretty thing to them. They don’t yet know what it means.

But this year there is no table at the usual place. No poppies. No veteran.

When I asked about it, I was told that there were no more of the old school soldiers left to take on the task of dispensing poppies at this locale. They have all passed on.

So for those children who won’t see the poppies this year, know that they were the first flowers to grow among the graves of soldiers in a faraway place called Flanders.

Remember…

 

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.

                     —– John McCrae, 1915

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poem

Kayla

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Kayla never understood
the dangers lurking in the wood.
Never did set any store
by lurid tales and grim folklore.

Didn’t know why the scare
others felt wasn’t there.
Truth be told, she felt a thrill
while others suffered morbid chill.

Dusk would find her forest-bound,
following each nightly sound.
Any shrieks or moans she heard
she’d believe nocturnal bird,

sure that under starlit sky
prowling perils passed her by.
Kayla never reasoned why
she was not afraid to die.

One night she found a meadow green,
where ancient gravestones carved a scene
of leaning, broken, granite teeth.
Wondered what lay underneath.

Trailing fingers ‘cross the moss
she uncovered what was lost.
“Here lies our child, loved but gone.
Sweet Kayla waits eternal dawn.”

Hands to face, bones she felt
poking through as flesh did melt.
Looking down, no gown on her,
a tattered shroud the breeze did stir.

Kayla’s cries fell into dreams,
waking parents with children’s screams.
Back along the trail she flew,
headed for the home she knew.

But doors stay barred against the ghosts,
wandering souls, and hellish hosts.
So huddled on the window sill,
Famished Kayla is waiting still.

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