Poems by Lynda Arneson Dokken USMC 1966-67 – submitted 5/11/09
WOMEN ARE VETERANS, TOO
We weren’t just tokens or pretty faces,
to decorate your offices and platoons;
we weren’t dumb, too plain or too stupid
to make it in the real world.
We’ve marched your muddy roads,
carried and shot your heavy guns.
We’ve been shot at, wounded, and died,
and been prisoners of war.
We’ve been active in all services,
and risen to high ranks.
We’ve tended your bleeding wounds,
and held you when you were dying.
We’ve flown your mighty airplanes
and navigated your giant ships.
We’ve fixed your broken engines
and driven heavy equipment.
We’ve mailed letters for you,
and brought you news from home.
We’ve stood along side of you,
without flinching or running away,
and continue to stand by you today.
We are not asking for special treatment,
or that you should go out of your way.
We’re only asking that you recognize
that women are veterans, too.
the following poems were written for an art show called “The Images of Vietnam”, which was held at in Salem, Oregon in 1989. I was the only poet, only woman veteran, and only non-combat veteran of 17 people picked state wide in Oregon accepted into the show.
That Was Hard Enough
In the dark humid forest,
I would never love
or believe again,
the day my soul
next to the stillness,
of my best friend.
That was hard enough.
Feeling heartsick and fragile,
I came home to face,
the unjust spit and venom
and foul words of hate;
became my pilgrimage,
and anger and mistrust
my way of life.
You ask me why I find
it hard to trust,
even after all these years;
because I am haunted more
by the memories of hate,
I am by the distant drums
of a distant war.
Etched In Stone
I cried when I saw them
and thought, “oh God, not you”;
then they told me you had died
in the jungles of Vietnam,
trying to save people,
and that was so like you.
I remember your deep compassion,
and how you use to dream
of wanting freedom for everyone
and a more peaceful world;
and how it became shattered
in a war no one wants to remember.
Al that remains with me now
is your warm and gentle memory,
making it harder for me
to reach out to touch
the coldness of your name,
etched in stone.
No One Ever Told Me
No one ever told me
your lonely silence
of a war screaming blood,
would drive us deeper
into haunted memories
of a humid forest.
No one ever told me
the unconscious rage
lingering in fearful eyes,
would cause us to explode,
to drift apart with empty faces
viewing shattered images.
No one ever told me,
that it would all end
and you and I would lie,
to the echoing sound
of a distant spade.
No one ever told me.
Not Your Enemy
I had known
how to deal with
your empty eyes,
your unspoken pain,
and your forbidding silence.
I would have known,
how to draw you out,
to talk to you,
to listen to what you
needed to say.
I would have known,
how to stay with you
over all the years;
to let you know
that I really loved you.
more than anything,
I would have known
how to convince you
that I was not
Soldiers Retreat (Aug. 2008)
by Paul Newell
Yea though I Travel to the Solitude of my Being
I am a Soldier.
I have soldiered diligently.
I have soldiered honorably.
Though I have traveled the inroads of war and the back alleys of unknown battles, diligently and honorably, I am not with out flaw or fail. Should you cast subjection upon me, should you also dwell in a round house made of stone?
A soldier’s life is but a life of trust. Trust in the structure of command. It is for this trust that a soldier will obey a command. This trust that supports the belief in superior knowledge. This trust supports the belief that superior knowledge is necessarily educated for maximum favorable results. Under trial and tribulation will a soldier maintain security to their last living breath: will a soldier stand by on their watch. All is pending and based on this living breathing trust. In the end for some, this trust will only lead to certain death and the most tragic events witnessed or executed. For others this trust will lead to a shattered soul that will long for healing the way parched sand is puckered to kiss the preceding rain.
If ever there has been a need to heal the soul it is now.
Now that the trust has been breached the seal of worthiness is gone. (“The Worthiness of My Trust”)
Where shall I go now?
Where shall I seal my trust now?
My duties fulfilled, my tours complete.
What have you for this battle weary Soldier and broken Soul now?
I see not a sturdy post to lean upon nor an inviting seat to sit upon.
For I have been shattered to my core.
My energies depleted.
I seek refuge from my storm.
Does the earth become my bride, if I should be striped of all, but pride?
No I am free to walk anywhere.
I am free to speak my mind. Therefore I shall travel the road of solitude to the center of my own being.
It is there within my being that I will seek the new and real trust.
Trust in myself and trust in the being of my solitude. For the trust that I have given others is the trust that I shall now afford myself.
I shall seek within to find the structured faith that is the seal of worthiness
It is deliverance that I need. Yet patience that I will have to accept.
Walking the path of solitude is the most honorable way to meet yourself in the truest of spirit. It is at the center of solitude where I will find safe passage.
And from the center that I shall be protected on all fronts.
And it is there at that center that I shall conduct all measures and matters pertaining to the well being of my existence.
I must make this journey for the sake of my sanity.
Also for those whom I love I must seek the ability to afford them the same dignity with which I left them.
This is not an easy road I seek but a necessary path of healing rite.
For it is a peculiarity of man that he can better endure almost any other condition than that of solitude.
I am a prisoner of wars byproduct.
Do not forget me. I shall not wane:, steadfast is how I shall remain. I will wait – wait on the edge for a closer glance at freedom.
Nurtured Solitude is a key component on the road of recovery.
A man who goes to war, shall enter upon Gods gate first.
You are blessed by all
Once a boy, now a Man
by Jim Silva – January 2007
Co.D.,4th Bn, 39th Inf, 9th Inf Division
Sergeant E-5, email@example.com
I had just turned the cool age of twenty one.
With a draft notice I was now toting a gun.
I was young and naïve and had never left home.
Now I’m in Vietnam and I have miles to roam.
It took only 6 months to be trained to kill.
Now I’m in a far away land and doing it free will.
The jungles are green and the rivers run deep.
It is our job to kill and not say a peep.
The days are long and the weather is hot.
To kill is our job whether we like it or not.
As we go on our missions day in and day out.
We know we face death, that there is no doubt.
The men that we lose, and we do lose some.
We mourn these guys knowing more are to come.
They were young and vibrant and full of life.
Now we pay tribute to the loss of their life.
The next day comes and we do it all again.
We are the ones, America’s fighting men.
We all count the days that we will return home.
We don’t realize that America has changed, instead of a cheer we come home to a moan.
The years go by and we sit and reminisce.
We are veterans now and our friends we do miss.
We are back in society, but not without pain.
We now have to listen to people saying we all fought in vain.
You served your country and went to war.
Most Americans treat you like you are a cancerous sore.
The Vietnam Vets never got their “Thank You”.
They honor their own with tributes and statutes.
Once you were young with a bright outlook on life.
Now you are considered Americas strife.
Life goes on and we hold are heads high.
We fought for freedom, and we didn’t cry.
At memorial events we do shed some tears.
We do that for the men we lost those years.
We gather together as a “Band of Brothers”.
We answered our countries call like no others.
If you see us today on the streets of your town.
We’ll look as normal as all, and will smile and not frown.
We are all proud of what we had to do.
Remember America we did it for you.
We live with our demons the best we can.
In reality we know we will never forget Vietnam.
We were full of life when they sent us to Nam.
Once we were a boy, now a Man!
By William J. Simmons, Sr.
Was the “Gulf War” another Vietnam?
Or did Saddam release a chemical
or biological bomb that never alarmed?
Coming back to America with such joy.
Now we could play with our family and toys.
Little did we know that we would
experience Vietnam revisited.
We would go down to register
with the VA as if we were enlisted.
People did not understand and some tried to hide.
But I must stand tall and keep my stride.
For I have a family and a child.
How will my exposure harm
the offspring who is mild?
For the spouses, children and significant others.
Will they go through the same sickness
as all the military brothers?
Lets hope that one day it will all be over.
So that we will all be able to pick four leaf clovers.
Or if we can’t do anything all.
Lets hope that Vietnam revisited
will not affect ya’ll.
This release is dedicated to the memory of my deceased Platoon Sergeant, William “Vance” Parker, who died on Friday, September 23, 2005 of a massive stroke. Vance died before he received his compensation that he fought
so hard for. May my Friend and Brother rest in peace…
November 12, 2006
By William J. Simmons, Sr.
Web Site: www.geocities.com/wjsimmons_2000
Publisher’s Web Page (www.xlibris.com) for the book,
The Gulf War Anthology of Poetry
(ISBN: 0738860387-Hardcover; 0738860395-Paperback).
VietNam Veteran Tribute Poem
I went to Washington D.C. to honor my buddys
Three were cast in bronze
They looked tired battle weary
Their weapons hung heavy in their arms
I looked in their eyes a profound distant stare searching and wondering if their names were there
Over Fifty Eight-Thousand plus men and women
Engraved on the face of a black granite wall they told us we were fighting for freedom for the oppressed Vietnamese people
I reached to touch my buddys name when a lady asked were you with my son in Vietnam?
Teary eyed yes i replyed and i loved him like a brother
She reached to embrace me with tears in her eyes and held me close as we both cried
Now this memorial tribute will always remind us of all the brave soldiers who fought in viet nam those who made this monumental sacrifice and to those of us veterans of foreign wars let us be their living reminder that these brave men and women who died in viet nam met death with honor and as long as we live america will never forget the VIETNAM VETERAN
Louis J. Farragher 1964-1966
A PROUD VIETNAM VETERAN
I had written this poem back in 1984 and placed it on a parchment print. I have given away thousands of copies to brothers, sisters and family members who lost loved ones. Thanks to VETERANS TODAY, I could send it out to all! WELCOME HOME BROTHERS AND SISTERS
The Fallen by Joe Allen – 01/2005
As The Dust Settles,
In The Morning Sun.
A Brave Soldier,
No Where To Run.
Sits At Home
The Silent Phone.His Thoughts,
The love of her Embrace,
While The Danger… Is Face To Face.Sitting Silent,
She Sheds A Tear,
Shrouded In Fear,
Awaiting A Knock,
Of That Indelable Spear.He Screams In Pain.
As He Is Shot,
She Sits In A Stare,
A Troubled Glare,
Beyond Compare.The Same Shot,
Hits Her Heart.
A Bad Dream,
Then Awakens.As His Coffin Nears,
Her Final Tear,
Upon Her Face.
A Final Embrace.Then A Smile,
Were Never Apart,
The Thousands Of Miles,
As One Heart
Off to World War III
By Johnny Punish
In honor of the ALL the civilians who died today in Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, and around the world
America and the Global a Go-Go
Where liberty was once the dream
Her People No Longer Question
Goose-Stepping, know what I mean?
So are we with her or against?
Stabbing Freedom Red
And a patron who gives applause
While Liberty Beaten Dead
Clash and Kill are we
Quoting Religious Script
Eat our Oil Food
Is this our tale from the crypt?
America, once a beacon for all
In a world gone mad
Is that our carcass in the street
Or have we all been had?
It’s a Hijack of the people
By the Peddlers of the Fear
Where peace is not a goal
Haven’t ya heard? It’s the New World Order dear!
Marhaba, its Armageddon Time
A do or die they say
Where might is right and peace is wrong
Shalom Cowboy F-15 Pull Make My Day!
So kill your neighbor and his children too
Drop a Bomb, no consequence on you.
And as your legend grows
The feared one you shall be
Pack it up Soldier, You’re on!
It’s off to World War III
KENNEDY= THE WAR YEARS
by Tom Zart
After the attack on Pearl Harbor
He applied for sea duty in the war.
Where Lieutenant John F. Kennedy
Became known for his bravery and more.
In the dark hours before dawn
On August 2, of 43.
Kennedy commanded a torpedo boat
Through the blackness of night at sea.
PT – 109, was on Solomon’s patrol
With a 12-man crew in a plywood craft.
A Japanese destroyer plowed through the night
Ramming and cutting Kennedy’s boat in half.
Two of the crew just disappeared
A third was badly burned.
Kennedy himself was thrown to the deck,
Where in pain his leadership he earned.
Some of his men had never learned to swim
As he gathered them on the bobbing bow.
The hours passed tell it seemed it would sink
So they made for an island and here’s how.
He ordered those who could to swim
The others were to hang on to a beam.
Kennedy grabbed the injured sailor
And off they tread through the ocean stream.
With his teeth clenched on the burnt man’s vest straps
Skipper Kennedy swam 3 miles.
5 hours later they all made it
Despite their hardships, sharks, and trials.
The next problem was how to summon up help
Without arousing the enemy all around.
After several attempts swimming to other islands
Eventually two natives in a canoe were found.
Kennedy scratch a note on a coconut
To be delivered to a base 38 miles away.
The message made it and they were saved
And their courage still lives us today.
By Tom Zart
Most Published Poet
On The Web
NIGHT BEFORE XMAS
by unamed Soldier
TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS,
HE LIVED ALL ALONE,
IN A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE MADE OF
PLASTER AND STONE.
I HAD COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY
WITH PRESENTS TO GIVE,
AND TO SEE JUST WHO
IN THIS HOME DID LIVE.
I LOOKED ALL ABOUT,
A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE,
NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS,
NOT EVEN A TREE.
NO STOCKING BY MANTLE,
JUST BOOTS FILLED WITH SAND,
ON THE WALL HUNG PICTURES
OF FAR DISTANT LANDS.
WITH MEDALS AND BADGES,
AWARDS OF ALL KINDS, A SOBER THOUGHT
CAME THROUGH MY MIND.
FOR THIS HOUSE WAS DIFFERENT,
IT WAS DARK AND DREARY,
I FOUND THE HOME OF A SOLDIER,
ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.
THE SOLDIER LAY SLEEPING,
CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR
IN THIS ONE BEDROOM HOME.
THE FACE WAS SO GENTLE,
THE ROOM IN SUCH DISORDER,
NOT HOW I PICTURED
A UNITED STATES SOLDIER.
WAS THIS THE HERO
OF WHOM I ‘D JUST READ?
CURLED UP ON A PONCHO,
THE FLOOR FOR A BED?
I REALIZED THE FAMILIES
THAT I SAW THIS NIGHT,
OWED THEIR LIVES TO THESE SOLDIERS
WHO WERE WILLING TO FIGHT.
SOON ROUND THE WORLD,
THE CHILDREN WOULD PLAY,
AND GROWNUPS WOULD CELEBRATE
A BRIGHT CHRISTMAS DAY.
THEY ALL ENJOYED FREEDOM
EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR,
BECAUSE OF THE SOLDIERS,
LIKE THE ONE LYING HERE.
I COULDN’T HELP WONDER
HOW MANY LAY ALONE,
ON A COLD CHRISTMAS EVE
IN A LAND FAR FROM HOME.
THE VERY THOUGHT
BROUGHT A TEAR TO MY EYE,
I DROPPED TO MY KNEES
AND STARTED TO CRY.
THE SOLDIER AWAKENED
AND I HEARD A ROUGH VOICE,
“SANTA DON’T CRY,
THIS LIFE IS MY CHOICE”;
I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM,
I DON’T ASK FOR MORE,
MY LIFE IS MY GOD,
MY COUNTRY, MY HOME.”
THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER
AND DRIFTED TO SLEEP,
I COULDN’T CONTROL IT,
I CONTINUED TO WEEP.
I KEPT WATCH FOR HOURS,
SO SILENT AND STILL
AND WE BOTH SHIVERED
FROM THE COLD NIGHT’S CHILL.
I DIDN’T WANT TO LEAVE
ON THAT COLD, DARK, NIGHT,
THIS GUARDIAN OF HONOR
SO WILLING TO FIGHT.
THEN THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER,
WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE,
WHISPERED, “CARRY ON SANTA,
IT’S CHRISTMAS DAY, ALL IS SECURE.”
ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH,
AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND,
AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT.”
sent to us by Mexi~Ndn Soldier “Syl”
One of my newer poems was created as I awoke one morning so very thankful for the peaceful surroundings and the pleasant atmosphere of my quiet home at that time in Branford, Florida. My thanks and gratitude are always directed to the Lord and in this particular work are given to our active military who have been fighting in Iraq to keep peace here in America.
To our United States Military and our allies
Though I have never seen you, you are always in my heart
As I walk under the pecan tree and see the dogwood budding near
My heart is lightly relishing this wonderful peace of heaven on earth;
because of God and you, now there is no need to fear.
While I am walking in the yard, amidst the pecans and oak trees, I gaze upon a red bird on a branch;
I whisper a prayer of gratitude and thanks!
It is because of what your doing, and because of who you are;
that I can lay upon my bed safely, glancing in the woods to see a squirrel shuffeling, or hear a bird singing; because there is peace!
To awaken to the beauty of how it should always be;
A safe dwelling place of refuge with the birds singing safely. To look out of my window at a life haven and of peace;
Peace within my borders; a world all at rest
at least is how it appears ’till, I hear of what your doing;
a sacrafice you’ve made;
To let me enjoy the solomn heaven of my world at peace;
I couldn’t have one bit of it without your sacrafice;
The hell that your experiencing has made my world so nice;
To see the bird just resting not fleeing in haste or fear;
is only because she is safely dwelling in the place you helped provide that is here.
With all my heart I thank you and can’t begin to pen my thoughts of how I feel;
Of how what your doing has blessed me every moment with the peaceful dwelling, & safe haven that is so very real!
You haven’t had much of this in quite some time because of your sacrafice to fight the evil and to keep it far from me;
In my prayers you too will experience this haven of safe and peaaaceful dwelling with the birds, squirrels, and the oaks and pecan trees.
I just want you to know that rarely does anytime go by even in a day;
That I don’t realize the gift of peace we have in our land;
is because of the price you pay;
To keep the war far from our shores the bombs far away.
To give us a quiet resting place and blessed pure water we enjoy every day.
Your work is never unnoticed nor are you ever without my greatest prayer;
That the world can be at peace again; and you’ll safely return home without one care.
God has bestowed a great blessing of inheritance upon me that with you I long to share That no enemy will be able to stand before you as long as you live nor will they even dare. And much more than this I pray for you from the Books of Pentitude Dueteronomy 7 and Exodus 23 too He has brought me out of gross darkness and now His marvelous light appears As He bestows on me His banner of love and victory, He bannishes all my fears.
Your joint heir in Christ, and fellow citizen of the Kingdom of God, A sister in the Lord,
Kimy Gerred at firstname.lastname@example.org
Winter 2006 Branford, Florida
A 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.”
LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq