Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | May 23, 2014

For Memorial Day, 2014

This is partly a bit of history, but  it’s poetry.  It is meant to be a memorial for all the fallen warriors. I may have posted it before, a couple of years ago, but the feelings haven’t changed.


“He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.”

Hot and raining as it is today,
it seems appropriate,
coming down Gunter’s Mountain into the park,
hanging like tattered tapestry from hills,
rising from steaming ground and wet trees,
leaching  memories of valleys in Laos and Vietnam,
where mists seemed to flow down from mountains
and pool in steep ravines,
like fog in an old horror movie,
hiding something at the bottom.

How often does a man find an obituary for a comrade
he didn’t know was gone,
in U.S. News?
While eating a sandwich at Wendy’s?

I once started a poem about things that don’t fit:
Pavarotti singing  Nessun Dorma in my head
while waiting in line at McDonald’s,
Achey Breaky Heart playing on the loudspeakers.
But that was all,
it was a definition, not a poem.

Today, here,
an epitaph for a warrior lies in front of me,
on the table,
slamming like an AK round,
like finding my own picture
featured in obituaries of a local paper.

I hold in my hands,
a remembrance with two pictures,
a past that we never quite left,
-strong young warriors
filled with belief and intensity.
and today’s face,
dragging almost-forgotten pains like a wounded leg
whose scars you don’t see
until a man is stripped and naked.

A picture of an aging man,
wearing his green beret,
at a Special Forces convention,
where we try through telling,
and again retelling,
remembering names of abandoned places,
pinpoints on terrain maps of the brain;
remembering names of dead warriors,
carved on The Wall, and in our hearts;
you to me: me to you,
our litany of names like beads on a string,
a ceremony of incantations,
somehow to create again,
here, far  downstream,
the men in old pictures.


  1. Still powerful, just as stirring as when I first read it.

  2. Strong!! And even stronger with age (or, as it were, further downstream).

  3. Take care, Brother.

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