Poetry

The Strike

poem by Topher Hunt – 12 May 2005
inspired by Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried

It was noon when the planes heard the radio call.
“Here we are, there it is – let no house remain standing.”
The lieutenant and all the men he was commanding
Stood and watched from a hillock to see the town fall –
But inspection provided no pleasure at all.

There were always the words no true soldier would say.
“That pile could not just have been a live being.”
Whatever was needed to keep one from seeing –
Whatever it took to keep looking away.
The effort was worth it to live through each day.

So they made jokes and banter, made mock of the dead
Not from scorn or revile, but an odd sort of awe
That gave needed relief from the carnage they saw.
False voices, arms folded, a tilt of the head
Let them see not a corpse but a scarecrow instead.

They make camp in the village, they’ll stay until dawn.
The closeness of death sets a chill in the bone
That ends the forced jokes and sets each man alone.
The pretense of sleep lasts until night is gone –
And then, wordless, remorseless, they stand and move on.

A Sharing Of Gratitude

poem by Topher Hunt – December 2008
accompanied donations to Heifer Int’l in the name of my family

I read about violence and fear in Mumbai
And tried to imagine the anger which triggered it
And a shoe thrown in outrage by one who figured
That no sniper was worse than our bombs from the sky
Or whatever he thought; it was certainly fraught
With the goodwill and livelihood of you and I.

For I realize now that Vermont life somehow
Is but a train, but a plane, but a bridge from such loss
We are but a camera, but a news flash from chaos
That we proud Americans oft cure but oft grow
As we battle the fray – ’tis the small price we pay
To protect and foster the good life I know.

In these months of hardship and hours worked late
What mountainous assets we carry unthanked;
This land is no first to lose much that it’s banked on
We pitch in to the structure which tells our kids’ fate.
We know not war’s attrition, we elect our officials
We are promised that our rights will never abate.

And I as I can stand, I can sing, I can learn,
I can work and spend and thank with ease
And as granted I often take such gifts as these
I will dedicate this moment to my small return
To those souls in need of mere water and seed
And a chance at the peace for which they all yearn.

Though come and gone is Thanksgiving’s appeal
This is my time for a sharing of gratitude
To pass on the treasures I have, which you’ve added to
For dates are just numbers; but my thanks is real
And Christmas means giving; so the world that is living
Outside of my scope of awareness can heal.

For we who have family close and prospects high:
This is a time for a Christmas sharing
For pushing outwards our scope of caring
To those less able, more fettered, less thankful than I
As with tear-filled eyes they look to the skies
And pray to know the meaning of hope by and by.

So I take this chance to share my good fortune
With those who are less lucky, less protected from strife
We share but one world and all live but one life
Our fates are not separate, but indeed disproportioned
And while life is not fair, we can just be aware
That what we take for granted can still be important.

We never will be nor can be fully thankful for what we have,
Thankful for what we lose and learn and keep.

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All my public works available here are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. You may: copy, redistribute, and distribute modifications on my work as long as you: give me credit as origin, do not commercially profit from the use, and license any derivatives under Creative Commons under these same conditions.

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