[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
The Wake Up

As the endless war in Afghanistan drags on and on,
Slowly emerging are tales of war atrocities by Americans,
By men in combat whose job is to kill other human beings,
And when they do, they tend to celebrate being alive,
Celebrate the enemy they have just killed as now dead.
The Indians of America would take “scalps,”
In Vietnam, ears of the dead were cut off,
Stored in plastic bags, like curled, dried, brown potato chips.
Reminder souvenirs of America’s triumph; of our “winning!”

In Afghanistan other photos emerged of American snipers
Pissing on the bodies of the dead enemy of Al Qaeda,
Others posing with enemy dead beneath German SS flags,
The latest photos show Americans holding up body-parts
Of dead the newly dead Afghanistan suicide bombers,
Who were trying to kill them and dying in their effort.
And who can forget the American Sergeant Robert Bales
On his 4th tour of combat, despite suffering head wounds,
Who mercilessly went out in the middle of the night,
To gun down 17 Afghanistan women and children,
In the dead of night...as they slept....

Afghanistan is a guerrilla war; a civil war; and a religious war,
To Americans, Afghans are “towel-heads,”
Any one of them could easily be a suicide bomber, a “martyr,”
Whose lives are meaningless; inconsequential; of no value,
So indiscriminate killing of the “enemy,” becomes the norm,
An acceptable reaction to perceived dangers; a survival tool.

As long as American troops are forced into multiple tours,
Multiple atrocities will continue...unabated,
For they are also put into “survival” mode, which has no rules;
Which has no boundaries; no “codes of conduct.”
For Afghanistan is an “unconventional war,”
Things like the “Geneva Convention,” are merely concepts
Of another time and another place and of another era.
Which are given lip service by the Military Leaders,
But on the ground, these go out the window; are disregarded.
Just as in most wars, today are wars that Generals,
Ranking Officers and Commanders in Chief, Never Fight In!
Those who fight return from war weary, worn out, empty,
Tired, and drained from an endless year of being on the edge.
This takes its toll, as every minute of every day one is guarded;
Suspicious, tense, walking a very fine line, a balancing act,
Knowing you can easily die at any time, at any place,
And never, even, see it coming!

One comes back from war fearful of the night, of dark,
For the dark represents the “unknown,” the unseen,
As “unknowns” are dangerous; unknowns will kill you.
One is on the precipice; cautious, suspicious of everything,
Bringing home the costly survival skills they learned
In combat, skills, skills, which kept them alive.
Yet, sudden noises startle; one steers away from crowds,
Doesn’t want anyone too close or near them,
For they trust nobody; are very leery of strangers,
They have learned the hard way, “Not to believe Nothin!’’

One is never quite the same after a year at war...
One returns from war...isolated and totally alone.
In war, one loses their innocence, their beliefs,
The National myths and traditions, which sent them to war,
Have proved false and misleading, for war has no glory,
The people they were sent to help are trying to kill them,
And do, as suddenly friends and buddies die indiscriminately;
They are there one moment, the next, they are chunks of meat
Bloody and scattered across the earth in pieces...forever dead!
It is an event no one can train for; no one can prepare for,
As deep inside you realize it is luck; it may just as well been you
Who got caught, chewed up and spit out dead...forever dead,

You would have been the one who died for what, and why?
And therein is the problem, the crisis, the predicament.
Something nobody seems to understand or can comprehend
As to why there are such problems for returning veterans,
Why they have changed their mindset; have become strangers,
Are so hard and difficult to deal with, have changed drastically,
Are no longer who they used to be; whom they will never be!
Can never again be the person they were...it is impossible.
For those who initially go to war have been conditioned;
Carefully taught and embedded in their imagination,
Regarding the patriotic glory of war, the flags waving,
Marching bands, national anthems, patriotic ceremonies,
Celebrations with fireworks and football game "fly-overs"
Ingrained in the culture as a vital part of your great country,
You were “Fighting for Freedom; for Democracy; for Liberty!”
In a noble cause to protect the homeland; your patriotic duty!

All the things our songs sing about...are forever gone.
They are reduced down to a dead, bloody friend,
Lying so still, so motionless, sprawled awkwardly,
On the foreign soil in a land so far away from his home,
Who’s sightless eyes stare unblinking into its own eternity.
Whose sad death was not heroic; not patriotic, not glorious
Rather a brutal snapshot of the horrors of war and dying
And your predominant feeling is strangely one of gladness,
A feeling of sick, jumbled, overwhelming relief
It was he, not you, who was killed and lying alone in the gore.
And for that, you will forever deal with the guilt of being alive!

All who go to war return back home changed,
Come back different; will never be the same.
For they cannot be the same, nor will they ever return,
To those wistful perfect days of youth and imagination;
Those dreamy days in an ideal world which never was,
Except in one’s desperate imagination and fanciful dreams.
Dreams, which kept one going, to get through one more day,
Which helped them make it through, just one more night!

One cannot change the past; one can only acknowledge it,
Then move on and try to leave it behind, it cannot be changed,
It cannot be different; be ignored nor disregarded,
It can only be somehow put into perspective,
And one day, it will be accepted as having happened,
Knowing that it changed you, but you survived war;
You finally “Wake Up” from the worst hell in the world,
And slowly return once more back to the living, to safety,
To a new world, which is yours to do with
As you may, and... as you choose!

By Curtis D Bennett

First U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan, October 7, 2001
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Black and White

Prior to Vietnam, Wars were in black and white footage,
The Civil War was recorded in black and white photos
The 1st World War, in grainy, jerky movies of armies,
The 2nd World War introduced some color in the footage,
And even included photos of the dead bodies
Washing ashore after an invasion from the sea,
All of this before television became the media of choice,
Bring America the Vietnam War in living color.
Complete with all the blood and gore of war;
Accompanied by the sound track of dying, frightened boys,
Waiting for that helicopter, which never came.

Prior to Vietnam, the Government censored wars,
For good reason, for wars were brutal, bloody, and vile,
And dead Americans cannot be sanitized nor sainted,
Their are no words to justify the destruction and death
Of the young boys whose bodies are so desecrated,
Torn up and broken into bloody pieces of human meat,
Ground up and callously spit out in the madness of war.

Night after night after night on the network news,
Just in time for dinner, came the reports from Vietnam,
From frightened correspondents in the jungle battlefield,
Surrounded by the American limp, lifeless bodies,
Being loaded into helicopters like sacks of garbage,
Stacked on each other so as to conserve space and room,
There are no dignified deaths in war...
There is no way to eliminate the blood and death,
No say to deny the killing and bloodshed,
No way to justify...the horrendous human cost.

Yet, there is something that seems to fascinate us,
Draws viewers to the screen night after night to the news,
In the comfort and safety of their own homes, they watch
The efforts of America to wage war across the sea,
In a faraway land; for a vague, ignoble, forgotten cause,
A war, which over the years, has finally lost its reality,
And now, rings hollow...like a broken bell.

By Curtis D Bennett
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Iraq Legacy

One day we will look back and realize,
Our kids all died…. for nothing.
One day, America will be forced to abandon Iraq.
The American people will have enough
Of war, personal sacrifice and waste of treasury.
American voters will make the choice,
Not Congress, not the President, not the military,
But the people paying the taxes and sacrificing their children.
Our military will be forced to pack it up and move out
Leaving behind the hot, dusty, blood stained soil
Where forgotten kids were butchered and maimed,
Were brutally murdered on behalf of America
Children sent there by spineless, cowardly politicians
Condoned by feckless, incompetent Military Leaders
Who knew better, but said nothing to protect their jobs.
These kids selflessly gave the ultimate sacrifice of their life
In the name of a misguided, confused, fearful country
Whose President claimed to the American people
He sent these kids to die in that savage land
With the blessing and approval of God.
At that point our war with Iraq
Becomes the ultimate blasphemy.

By Curtis D. Bennett
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Testimony

I went to Vietnam for a year.
It probably could have been
Better spent elsewhere,
But I went anyhow,
Not that I chose to, or wanted to,
Not that I volunteered to go kill people.
Rather, I got a mandatory Draft Notice,
So I was sent into the Military,
To do what Militaries do...fight wars.

I had never been to war,
Neither had most Americans who went
As it had been a long time passing,
Since the Korean debacle of the 50’s,
Where almost 34,000 Americans died,
In this three year “Police Action,” by the United Nations.
And it was a shock; a disappointment,
Not at all like the movies portray wars, no parades...bands,
There was no glory, no grandeur, no triumphs, no Victories!

Yet, at times, war can be spectacular,
Sometimes, in the aftermath of a battle,
It is the composition of the battlefield,
Resembling a sprawling canvas of terrible beauty,
Where nothing stirs; nothing moves in the silence;
Where gray smoke drifts and rises aimlessly
From blackened, broken, smouldering craters.
Where the dead sprawl awkwardly where they died,
In the exact moment of their brutal death!

Broken bodies and limb pieces, frozen for all time,
In grotesque caricatures configurations,
Their mouths slack and open, faces crawling with carrion flies,
Eyes half open, half closed, all dulled and distant,
As if they were staring, unfocused, into eternity.
Their war ended their life, their futures,
Brutally cut short, cut down in the prime
Of their young life, which is now forever gone.
There would be no wife to love; no children to raise,
No grandchildren to spoil at Christmas,
No legacy of the gene pool, no decedents,
All lost eternally and forever frozen in time.

Life as they once knew was gone; so totally over,
For each and every one of these young boys.
Quickly understood what war really was,
An endless, long year of young men like himself
Killing “enemy,” brutally, callously as ordered
Those who were fighting in and for their own country,
While we were strangers killing them in their own back yard…
This, makes a huge difference.

I did not set war policy, nor determine strategy,
I was told what to do and doing it as best I could,
In the most honorable way (if that is possible.)
I make no apologies for my behavior,
For fulfilling my duty, and following orders,
For being of “service,” to my country.
I quickly learned this war was very limited,
Bogged down in restrictions, with no clear cut direction,

I quickly understood I was there to survive )

By Curtis D Bennett
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Harbingers
(From Normandy)


Frail, old men with weathered hands stand,
Alone, lost on the wide sandy beaches,
Each turning back his rusty mind clock
Piercing the veil of memories
When they were young, anxious and terrified,
Boy-soldiers in battle fighting for their lives,
Experiencing the gamut of fear and death
Watching friends die horribly,
Scarring their young minds forever.

Blue beaches murmur waves
Splashing old, rusted war remnants.
A sea bird flaps wet beaches
Where the sea swells and crashes gently on wet sand,
Retreating back erasing all footprints.
The men stare the distance,
At blurred memories through tears.
Trickling down their cheeks dripping softly,
To merge with the sea like before.

They came to say good-bye to their friends,
To a confused past which has no answers.
The graveyard crosses watch in stony silence,
Stoically from tree shadows on soft meadows,
In eternal military formation fronted by small, flags,
Wind-shivering in the hush of silence.
Marching the stillness in quiet precision
Protecting the young soldiers buried there,
Frozen in time and death
The old veterans stand awkward, unsure with the dead.
Experiencing those familiar, dreaded, sick feelings
Of remorse, regret, blame, and fault for what happened
To their generation who gave so much for their country.
They have gathered one final time
To share history, blame and guilt for all eternity
Banding together as one, they embrace the moment,
Experiencing once more, this terrible place of
memories.

And the same salt sea air, still blows up from the beach
Once inhaled in panic by all the young fighting men
Mired in the beach mud conducting the senseless slaughter of children,
Trapped forever in the obscenity and vulgarity of war,
The pain returns for a moment, overwhelming them,
It hangs suspended, as real as yesterday, then drifts away and mellows away.
Now time, history, and denial blessedly blur the horror and inhumanity
Of what they did; of what was done to them.

The War President from America
Mounts the podiums to prattle the virtues of war,
Attempting to rewrite history, to deny war's reality,
He exploits the moment for selfish means,
To justify his war as a noble cause, ignoring its brutality,
Thoughtlessly attempting to validate, substantiate, and authenticate,

War's vicious crimes against civilization
Turning the senseless slaughter of innocents
Into a righteous cause, to be proud of and condone..
Turning war into a sound-bite of empty words
Of praise, blessing, glory, and accomplishment.
Something to be proud of, to revel in,
To relish with sacred, biblical rhetoric
From a shallow, self-centered political opportunist.
Whose meanings and oratory become quickly lost,
His words floating away with the wind, out of relevance, out of touch
Out of context, drifting, beyond the restive crowds.
To fall useless and disappear, in the cold, impassionate mud.
Falling deaf on the ears of the dead warriors
The ultimate, wasted sacrifice, from another generation

It is at this moment, the old veterans
Eyes mist up, overflow, and tears flow shamelessly

As they at last comprehend all their sacrifice, all their pain,
All their sorrow, all their suffering, all the death,
Did not change or alter a thing, was not a lesson learned
Nor an experience not to be repeated..
Realizing their friend's painful, brutal, ultimate sacrifice
Was only a necessary evil of Mankind's political process
Which has never changed, and never will,
For each generation brings anew to the world
Its own self-styled madness of universal death, tragedy and suffering,
In wars to be fought by the young, bright-eyed children of the world
Unknowingly raised as sacrificial lambs of slaughter,
To be killed and gone forever, for nothing.
That is why, all Veterans cry.

In this hallowed place of the dead
The lonely graves of war's youthful victims
Who died for a thought,
an idea, for a cause
Promulgated by selfish, insane men in power
These war graves and cemeteries are Harbingers
Of the eternal, mindless death cycle of war.
Young men killed by politicians' words and mindless acts,
Their promise and existence forever ended too soon.
Now, forever sleep beneath the green muffled grass
Sharing the earth with the youth and victims of past wars,
Too numerous to count, too numbing to contemplate,
The dead, as powerless and impotent as the now living
To change or alter, or detour the inexorable course of madmen,
They patiently wait for the next generation to join them.

By Curtis D. Bennett

D-Day: Normandy Beach landings, June 6, 1944
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Keeping the Distance

Beneath this earth young warriors sleep
Forever more, forever more,
And for what myth was it they died,
Who sent them here forever?
To bury them, so far away
From farm and village, hearth and soil?
We dare not ask of why or how,
We dare not think too hard of them!
We need not question of ourselves,
Of how we let them go so far,
So we may keep our distance safe
Can paint their pictures in our mind
Of how they sacrificed their lives;
Of how they died so willingly,
On land that did not give them birth,

Noblesse Oblige, they sleep the earth.
We know they did not wail or scream,
Nor cry nor piss their pants in fear!,
They did not spill their crimson guts
Through gaping wounds of steel-sliced flesh,
Or stare in numbness at their blood
That pulsed and squirted, stained the soil.

We know they did not weep for mother,
Nor curse their fate nor bawl in pain,
Or seek to find their missing limbs,
While dragging stumps through fiery ground,
Or smelled their own flesh, burning stench!
Nor whimpered soft through blood blind eyes,
As whistling breath through gaping throats
Shot out their life in scarlet spurts.

We do not wish them here at home
To find eternal, lasting sleep,
No, better stay in foreign lands,
Where they sacrificed their life,
No, t’is better they remain unseen,
To keep their distance and our dream
To keep them heroes, sight unseen,

For sure, they died as noble men,
Not terror-stricken sons and boys,
For if this myth were proved untrue,
How could we ever face ourselves?
How could we ever…be so cruel?

By Curtis D Bennett
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
History of War

America emerged as a country of the world,
By fighting the British for Independence,
Refusing to be one of her colonies,
And emerged triumphant in 1776,
A new nation in a new world,
Since then, we have been fighting wars,
With everyone; every place and everywhere.
Around the globe, near East, Far East, Russia,
Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, Latin America,
A total of 66 conflicts in these 236 years,
Which has killed or wounded 2.6 million Americans...
Do you know the name... of one of them?

By Curtis D Bennett
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
The Becoming of a Man

Those returning from war are changed,
They are different; they are not the same.
Anyone who has been to war, knows this as fact,
Those who haven’t, can’t know.
But it is irrelevant, not meaningful,
To pick sides and fight about war experience,
To defend and justify your life experience.

Those veterans returning from war
Do not want to go to another one,
Do not want their children to fight one.
Do not want their country ever involved in war again!
Surely, there has to be other options!
My God, what happened to man’s ability to think?
To explore alternatives, to consider other alternatives?
War, should never be the first option,
Rather, should be considered only as the last resort.

Veterans who have been to war,
Seldom take up hunting as a sport,
For they have hunted humans,
And been hunted, neither is fun,
Neither is productive or sane.
Killing is something no one should do again,
Once they have done it once.
Might is not right, all people are human,
This is learned by personal insight, experience,
That anyone can be killed in a war,
And once dead, they are all the same.
None of them is ever coming back.
It is said, “Experience keeps a dear school,
But a fool will learn in no other.”

Veterans have all been to a life school,
And all have learned a crucial life lesson,
And having once been to war,
There is no need to go to another,
For nothing was proved by the first.
Veterans know how to be alone,
And how to survive being alone,
They have confidence in themselves,
They can handle alone; handle isolation,
And are their own, best company,
Based on the experience of being on your own,
On depending on yourself…to survive.

Most veterans think politicians are a waste,
Are not to be believed, trusted, or counted on,
For they will say anything to get elected,
And once members of Congress, forget the people
Who put them there, until it is time to run again,
Then the circus and its clowns will start their new show.
When you meet a combat veteran,
You are meeting a survivor,
Who has passed all the tests of manhood,
Has proven his mettle, his honor, his humanity,
He will forever be the warrior, the man,
For the veteran has nothing left to prove,
To anyone, anytime, anywhere…ever.

By Curtis D. Bennett
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Remember Me

I was once the pride of this country,
The healthy, the young, the strong and brave,
Then I quickly became the acceptable casualty
In my country’s undeclared war
In the name of national interest,
A country where I was too young to vote!

I went because I was still too young
To know any better, though others
Cleverly refused or ran away to hide.
I never once dreamed my own government
Would ever lie to its own people,
But I was mistaken and they did for years.

I fought their war in a hell for one year,
Then came home and found another hell,
Awaiting from the very people and country
Who determined I go in the first place
Then their war, suddenly became mine,
And I was the convenient scapegoat!

Today, I am the broken bodies and minds
Shunted off, out of sight, behind heavy doors
Of VA hospitals and mental wards to die.
I am in wheel chairs and braces, in hospital beds;
I walk the streets; I wander the railroad tracks,
I sleep beneath the stars.

By Curtis D Bennett
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
To a College Class

I come today to speak to you
About the past and of the future.
To talk to you of war and of peace.
Once I was like you,
Sitting in a classroom
Pondering unanswerable questions
With youthful confidence and strength,
My belief based on innocence,
My trust based on inexperience,
And truth was to seek out.

My generation has come and gone
To be replaced by yours.
Once a child of the 60’s
I now stand here a man of the 80’s,
Yet I can still remember
What it was like to be young,
How it felt to know tomorrow
Would always be a better day.
And all the older adults, the old farts
Were to be simply tolerated,
Friendly, but harmless,
They were just...there.

I was a part of the war in Vietnam,
I went as an eager curious young man
And came back home, jaded and weary,
For I learned more that one year
Than most will ever learn in a lifetime.
I saw reality, and it was ugly,
I experienced truth, and it was bitter;
In my tour, all life’s fairy-tales
Exploded in that myth-shattering year
And I have never been quite the same.

Today, the war in Vietnam
Is condensed into a few chapters
To be lightly discussed
In the History and Political Science books.
They recount the battles fought;
Of victories won, of campaigns lost,
Of dollars spent and divisive politics,
Of avoidable mistakes and misjudgements
Of indecisive, groping, failing White Houses;
Of angry, massive demonstrations and riots in the streets.

The world of Academia sometimes turns sterile,
And sometimes conveniently leaves out the human element;
Forgets and omits the personal tragedy;
Overlooks pain, suffering, and death;
Does not acknowledge the human condition.
They simply reduce the Vietnam War, and other wars,
Into just another short, inconsequential chapter of America;
A sordid, bitter, embarrassing experience best forgotten.

Some books even attempt to rewrite history,
Turning Vietnam into a noble, righteous cause.
History shows it was not the politicians who fought that war,
It was not the Congressmen’s children who died in the mud,
Nor the sons of the rich and wealthy subjected to misery;
Nor was it the World War Two veterans or the war hawks
Who were sent across a vast ocean to a heretofore unknown country
Where they would kill; where they would be killed
For a reason no one today can recall exactly why....

It was the common, ordinary children of America;
The kid next door, down the block, around the corner,
The ones you went to school with, went to church with.
They were the ones who fought and died in Vietnam.
It was the nineteen-year-old frightened, scared kid
Whose blood soaked into the red mud.
He was the acceptable casualty,
The expendable youth, the body count.
He, this country could afford to lose.

These children had hopes and dreams.
They did not want to die in a faraway land!
They had futures, possibilities, all taken away.
They had their youth and health.
While others evaded, avoided, or fled,
These were drafted and sent to war.
While the privileged sons of the rich,
The elite, those of the higher class, got degrees,
Got married, got into business, got deferments,
Joined the National Guard or Reserves,
While their unfortunate poorer “brothers”
Fought and bled and died horribly, far away.

There is another story of Vietnam
Which you can read; experience personally
In your quest for truth and reality.
You will see it in the VA hospitals,
You will feel it in military cemeteries,
You will read it on Washington’s Black Wall.
And in these places is where you will find
The sombre, tragic, sober realities of war.
While the survivors of that terrible experience
Returned home, searching to regain their lost humanity.

For in war men lose their souls!
For what they do against their fellow man
Has no definition, no rhyme, no reason!
Where the death of friends and trusted comrades
Ultimately has no meaning, no context it can be put into,
No manner it can be understood and rationalized,
No reason that can ever explain why them and not you?
And these survivors of war returned home searching
For those answers, and for what they had lost in war.

But this loss, this emptiness, this frustration, this searching,
Finds no answers, no solutions, no understanding,
No justification, no meaning, no sense.
The Vietnam veteran returned home, homeless,
Rejected, outcast, despised, ostracized
By his own country, by the very people he used to know,
As he now, personally carries the blame for his war,
As the atrocities and horrors congruent of every war,
Were forever misplaced directly on his young weary shoulders.
He was now held personally responsible,
For the war he was forced to fight;
A war in which he had no choice,
He was just another “number,” sent to war by his country
Where he was considered too young and immature to vote!

Today you, another generation of Americans
Are sitting in these same college classrooms
Asking the same, unanswerable questions.
Probing for secrets of knowledge, for learning.
Today another White House and Congress
Without regard for the Vietnam experience,
With no appreciation of the lessons of war
Would send your generation to their little war.
Where once again young men will fight and die
For a politician’s equal, ignoble, unjustified, war,
Orchestrated and based on lies and falsehoods,
That they cannot explain, cannot justify.
Instead, rely on a political sensitive General over there,
Whose answer is always, “Six more months.”

I am here today as one of many Vietnam veterans
Who has experienced combat,
Who has killed for his country,
Who has seen his countrymen killed.
I am a survivor and learned too much
About war, government, human nature and life.
I will answer your questions as honestly
As I possibly can; just bear with me,
As I continue, the search… for my soul!

By Curtis D Bennett
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Christmas Truce (1914-2006)

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row
That mark their place; and in the sky
The larks, still sweetly singing, fly
Are heard without the guns below.

Here are the dead from years ago,
Where in crude trenches filled with snow,
They kept the watch o’er no-man’s land,
Their country called, they took its stand,
Here they will fight; here they will die.
In Flanders fields.

On Christmas Eve through frozen sky,
Across the void where dead men lie,
Men’s voices sang the holy hymn,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And Christmas magic filled the night

And in that fading, winter light,
Men lay down arms and stopped the fight.
They rose from trenches deep in mud
And walked the fields of dead and blood,
To greet the other, man to man.

As men, not soldiers, offered hands
To others born in foreign lands,
Where for the first time they could see,
The young men called the enemy.
They gather close to share a smoke.

They talk, they laugh, they share a joke.
As human beings, common folk
Their truce held all that Christmas day,
They buried dead men where they lay.
Too soon, that day drifts in to night,

They part in evening’s dusky light,
Return to trenches for the fight,
Too soon, the fragile truce will end,
Too soon, they’ll kill a newfound friend,
For winds of war blow cold and rage
In Flander’s fields.

Their war is now a dusty page,
From ancient times, another age,
And through these many years they sleep,
With no more promises to keep.
Though poppies grow and larks still sing
In Flanders fields.

By Curtis D. Bennett

The Christmas Truce of 1914
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
A Tale of Two Villages

1) Oradour-sur-Glane (1944)

It could have been any town, anytime, or anywhere,
Any simple, ancient town of a thousand years
Quietly basking the grass banks of a timeless river.
Its old narrow streets paved with enduring cobblestones
As narrow tram tracks, meandered the main road
Laughing school children playing with barking dogs,
Old men dozing on wooden benches beside the road,
In the town of Oradour-sur-Glane in France,
On that peaceful, early June summer morning,
They day the soldiers came to town.

The Germans arrived around noon... )

Oradour-sur-Glane, June 10 1944

My Lai, March 16 1968
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Harbingers
(From Normandy)

Frail, old men with weathered hands stand,
Alone, lost on the wide sandy beaches,
Each turning back his rusty mind clock
Piercing the veil of memories
When they were young, anxious and terrified,
Boy-soldiers in battle fighting for their lives,
Experiencing the gamut of fear and death
Watching friends die horribly,
Scarring their young minds forever.

Blue beaches murmur waves
Splashing old, rusted war remnants.
A sea bird flaps wet beaches
Where the sea swells and crashes gently on wet sand,
Retreating back erasing all footprints.
The men stare the distance,
At blurred memories through tears.
Trickling down their cheeks dripping softly,
To merge with the sea like before.

They came to say good-bye to their friends,
To a confused past which has no answers.
The graveyard crosses watch in stony silence,
Stoically from tree shadows on soft meadows,
In eternal military formation fronted by small, flags,
Wind-shivering in the hush of silence.
Marching the stillness in quiet precision
Protecting the young soldiers buried there,
Frozen in time and death
The old veterans stand awkward, unsure with the dead.
Experiencing those familiar, dreaded, sick feelings
Of remorse, regret, blame, and fault for what happened
To their generation who gave so much for their country.
They have gathered one final time
To share history, blame and guilt for all eternity
Banding together as one, they embrace the moment,
Experiencing once more, this terrible place of
memories.

And the same salt sea air, still blows up from the beach
Once inhaled in panic by all the young fighting men
Mired in the beach mud conducting the senseless slaughter of children,
Trapped forever in the obscenity and vulgarity of war,
The pain returns for a moment, overwhelming them,
It hangs suspended, as real as yesterday, then drifts away and mellows away.
Now time, history, and denial blessedly blur the horror and inhumanity
Of what they did; of what was done to them.

The War President from America
Mounts the podiums to prattle the virtues of war,
Attempting to rewrite history, to deny war's reality,
He exploits the moment for selfish means,
To justify his war as a noble cause, ignoring its brutality,
Thoughtlessly attempting to validate, substantiate, and authenticate,

War's vicious crimes against civilization
Turning the senseless slaughter of innocents
Into a righteous cause, to be proud of and condone..
Turning war into a sound-bite of empty words
Of praise, blessing, glory, and accomplishment.
Something to be proud of, to revel in,
To relish with sacred, biblical rhetoric
From a shallow, self-centered political opportunist.
Whose meanings and oratory become quickly lost,
His words floating away with the wind, out of relevance, out of touch
Out of context, drifting, beyond the restive crowds.
To fall useless and disappear, in the cold, impassionate mud.
Falling deaf on the ears of the dead warriors
The ultimate, wasted sacrifice, from another generation

It is at this moment, the old veterans
Eyes mist up, overflow, and tears flow shamelessly

As they at last comprehend all their sacrifice, all their pain,
All their sorrow, all their suffering, all the death,
Did not change or alter a thing, was not a lesson learned
Nor an experience not to be repeated..
Realizing their friend's painful, brutal, ultimate sacrifice
Was only a necessary evil of Mankind's political process
Which has never changed, and never will,
For each generation brings anew to the world
Its own self-styled madness of universal death, tragedy and suffering,
In wars to be fought by the young, bright-eyed children of the world
Unknowingly raised as sacrificial lambs of slaughter,
To be killed and gone forever, for nothing.
That is why, all Veterans cry.

In this hallowed place of the dead
The lonely graves of war's youthful victims
Who died for a thought,
an idea, for a cause
Promulgated by selfish, insane men in power
These war graves and cemeteries are Harbingers
Of the eternal, mindless death cycle of war.
Young men killed by politicians' words and mindless acts,
Their promise and existence forever ended too soon.
Now, forever sleep beneath the green muffled grass
Sharing the earth with the youth and victims of past wars,
Too numerous to count, too numbing to contemplate,
The dead, as powerless and impotent as the now living
To change or alter, or detour the inexorable course of madmen,
They patiently wait for the next generation to join them.

By Curtis D. Bennett
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

The Sting

Once again the morning crept as silent stood
The clearing. Slowly breaks the new born day
Of fuzz light in shafts of gray
Now split the trees of black. A jungle bird
Gives voice to song that few have heard
Save those who watch from thickened wood.

They see the gently rising knoll
Where in the center, tightly bound,
The white-man lay tied to the ground
With heavy ropes to thickened stakes.
How soft the whimper that he makes
As pain and agony take control.

The sweat is drained from thirsty pores,
His shattered clothes in tatters lie.
The bullet holes have crusted dry
In rusty scabs. While all around
The buzzing flies have swarmed on down
To feast upon the cracking sores.

There is the coolness of the shade
The squatting figures have no care
Or passion for the dying man. They are there
For bigger prey, he is but the bait.
There is no hurry, they can wait
For the rescue to be made.

And soon the tiny plane flies by
To circle 'round the open site.
What thing has happened in the night
That leaves a man tied in the grass?
What evil things might come to pass?
Perhaps its best to pass him by.

He makes a run, a token pass,
Then from the torn and broken ground
The dying man has heard the sound,
So near but still so far. He struggles to arise
His movements catch the pilot's eyes
….The fateful die has now been cast!

The FAC plane wheels beyond the hill
To radio back his frantic quest
For help. From the east and from the west,
The iron birds gather circling high,
Not caring if the bullets fly,
Hungrily they wait the chance to kill.

And down they swoop in screaming runs,
Now napalm spews its splashing breath,
And rockets "whoosh" from pods of death,
As cracking bombs flash brilliant light
And scything iron. The day is night
As rolling black clouds hide the sun.

And then, the stinging silence reigns once more.
The blackened trees and broken ground
Tremble, swaying to the sound
Of eerie silence. Slowly coming into view
The rescue chopper and its crew
Head down towards the meadow floor.

The rotor blades whack out their beat,
The skids slide inches from the trees,
Whose branches bend like flattened seas
Before the wind. Then like a falling stone,
The chopper hammers to the zone
Then fares and hovers in the heat.

The man below flails wild his head
And strains against the biding ties.
The bobbing helo fills the skies,
Blacking out his sun. From its door
The crew chief leaps from engines' roar
To cut him from his cruel bed.

Crouching low he makes his run
And slashes free the rope that ties
Too late! He sees the screaming eyes
And hears the trigger's muffled snap!
The blinding flash of booby-trap
Engulfs the two as one.

The Huey staggers with the stroke,
Binds and crumples with the heat
And slams to earth. The burning meat
Is mingled with the scorching fire.
A crackling, tumbling funeral pyre
Mounting with the greasy smoke.

Then sudden stillness softly sighs…
The crackling fire dwindles down
To blend with ashes on the ground.
The rolling smoke has lost its surge,
And now is but a distant dirge
That wanders trackless skies.

In time, the metal turns to rust,
As do the distant memories
In empty homes across the seas.
No monuments, no graveyard stones
Mark the weary warrior's bones
That sleep together in the dust.

by Curt Bennett

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

Firefight

It is out there, another dimension of unreality around a bend,
Wavering, out of focus, ghost dancing the hairs of your neck, it silently laughs
Through the heat you feel its familiar coldness and putrid, foul stench in your gut
As the stillness screams in silence, and time slows down in curiosity.

Reflex sends you sinking down to earth in the tall sharp grasses and soft clay,
You feel the heat of mother earth as you embrace her with your body of dust
To hold her close, as if somehow she might shield you from harm, keep you safe,
That she might remember where you came from, and where you would one day return.

Frozen in time, the fear sweat starts a trickling path from your forehead down,
Meandering around the brow, it slants in and salts the eye, and is joined by tears,
To amble down the cheek, over to the flaring nostril, that drips snot into the river.
Down past the mouth to be joined by the drool that drips into beard stubble.

Battle senses warn they are watching, that they can see through the grass,
They know where you are, and are getting ready to kill you: you hate them for that,
But you cannot see back, you only see earth, but you can feel now the angry eyes
Waving over the fields like a wand brushing back the heavy grasses where you hid.

The moment freezes into eternity and now time has stood perfectly still and watches,
Tension cuts air like an iron cloud paralyzing all with its dangerous shadow.
Cautiously you raise your head and stare through the tall, waving grass
That is so still, you can hear it growing through the mounting tension.

The wait is unbearable, you dear not move, you hardly breathe, your guts twist,
And you have an overwhelming urge to bolt and runaway, and also to pee…
You let it run down your leg into the dirt. You hold, you hold, you do not move,
You do not scratch; you cannot, because you too are frozen in the moment.

A single, sharp shot! A pause…a pause…. Then the world explodes!
An abrupt hard fusillade of fire hammers the silence as the big guns start.
Slashing wickedly, recklessly, mindlessly, fireballs gallop and rip across the ground
Chasing each other fast into the tree line, groping the bush for human flesh!

Like fog, the cordite smoke hovers the ground in bitter smog and biting haze,
A soft blue whitish gray streaked by tracers from both ways that move so fast!
In the distance comes the grumble of artillery and really big rounds
That comes sighing in on descending tin whistles and overhead groans.

Erupting to life in miniature lightning rapidly dancing sparking and darting, ,
Obliterating the tree line just to the front, hedging trees, plowing ground
Sending huge clouds of smoke and debris tumbling skywards in small pieces
That flutter and twist and spin about then sail into the distance.

Then with no warning they slash down from the sky, small specks that grow,
Flashing downhill in silent, streaming flight, looming larger, ever faster
Then roar overhead and detach tumbling, glinting canisters
That float and waggle like silver fish, then spin plummeting to earth.

The fire splashes oranges and reds and blacks and purples in waves
Of heat and fiercely burning kerosene ignited by blazing phosphorous
Whose curling fire tongues slap and lick the earth and puke it up to the sky
In a steep, spinning smoke cloud that rushes and blocks the sun.

And then it stops, as a tardy piece of jagged iron belatedly from the trees,
Whirls overhead like a berserk knife fiercely spinning out of control,
Burying itself in the smoking dirt. Now silence rings and echoes ears,
Through the smoke roils a shaft of sunlight, so strangely out of place.

Now the only sounds are the crackling fires that burn and smoke the earth.
The fields are covered with litter, refuse, debris, broken parts of things and men.
There is a sweet smell of human flesh burned, the smell like fireworks all around,
Chaos, disarray, disorder and confusion, and a sense of giddy survivorship rule.

It is over, another battlefield in a war that will be all but forgotten in a week.
So why did men die hear, were political goals achieved, what was it about?
Was it necessary, was it a waste?

by Curt Bennett

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

Profanity

When hungry bullets
Chew into soft airplane bodies
Sending dials and gauges
Spinning in whirling circles…

When the little red warning lights
Scream in alarm, "blink-red", "blink-red", "blink-red"!
It is then you discover
The beauty of profanity!
And the need to know all the words!
But in no particular order.

by Curt Bennett

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

The Patrol

How hushed the jungle's stillness sleeps
As slow the point man softly creeps
In stealthy walk and careful eyes
He searches for that dread surprise
That lurks and waits his tired patrol.
Now up the gently climbing knoll,
A flash of Khaki! Winks the gloom,
That halts the toiling, lone platoon
In weary tracks.

The first fire team
Melts down into the speckled green
Of high ground to the right,
The remaining men fan out of sight
To wait.

Now faintly sounds a drumming,
Sandaled feet on soft ground running
Down the broken trail. The little men
Burst the stillness of the glen.
The fire-team crouched upon hill's crest
Take the lead man in the chest
With raking blinking, fire that moves
On up the line in fluted grooves
Of flashing, smashing death.

The sound
Of small arms fill the air, a round
Cracks overhead, another flashes by
To take the Sergeant in the eyes.
A flat, wet "smack" is soundly heard,
The man whacked dead without a word.
The raging bullets snarl and streak,
The chorused sounds of falling meat
And screams of dying pain.

A cordite haze
Thickens with the killing craze
And jungle heat. A strangled cry
A muffled curse, the bullets fly
And tear through fragile flesh and bone,
A gurgling sob, a wrenching moan,
A screaming howl of rage and wrath,
A frenzied man bolts up the bath
Blind-firing, sweeping bursts of lead,
Then takes a round right through the head.
Then…all is silent…all is still..
Save for the thrashing down the hill
Of frantic running men.

How soft,
How sweet the quiet lay, a bubbling cough
Of wounded enemy crawling off
Is halted by a single shot.
The hurt and dying get first air,
The dead are dragged into the shade
And covered up. So still….they lay
Whilst comrades tensely laugh and joke,
Shaking hands group to share a smoke,
And wait, desperate for the choppers drone
To pick them up, and take them home.

by Curt Bennett

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

One Fine Day

As far as the eye could see
The cloud cover stretched the horizon,
Broken only by tops of tallest mountains,
A soft, gauze mantle protecting the earth,
As to the east, the day star sun
Glowered the horizon in yellow fierceness
Promising to soon burn the thin mantle off
And bake the tropical forests below.

We loitered, skimming the cool, white sky sea,
The shadows of our aircraft ringed in rainbows
Hanging in silence the stillness of the morning
The radios crackled quietly in the background,
From unseen frantic men in crises below,
Running from an enemy closing in to kill them,v
As helicopters swarming the clouds below
Urgently coordinated the rescue.

The first Huey labored up and broke the clouds,
Trailing wispy tendrils of cloud-moisture
Off the ends of frantically whipping white-tipped blades,
Rotors fingers hungrily clawing the thick morning air.
An umbilical rope stretching down dragging behind,
Attached to six desperate men clinging to the cord,
Like fish anchored to a line, they trailed the clouds.

Slowly the Huey gained altitude climbing towards the sun,
Then another and another rose from the clouds,
Each trailing men holding on for life,
Green khaki knots they stretched the wind.
We lazily turned parallel to escort the Hueys
Back to the nearest landing zone
Where they would take aboard the men
They had rescued from certain death.

As we turned in orbit behind the choppers,
One of the green blobs lost hold on his lifeline,
Plummeted, arching towards his death.
In helpless, grim fascination, we watched him go
Plunging down through the quiet morning sun.
At the last moment, he spread his arms out wide,
Like Jesus on a cross, he swan dived and seemed to float,
For a brief moment skimming the clouds
Then disappeared.

by Curt Bennett

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

America

"MY COUNTRY 'TIS OF THEE…"

Here I sit in shit and mud
And wipe the dried and caking blood
From my dead friends face. The littered zone
Is full of young men going home
In dirty ponchos. Their lives so fast undone
As from their lips, forever dumb
They scream in silent shock and fear
In frozen agony. Quietly, they lie so near
In sleeping rank and file. Who might know
What thought flashed at the jolting blow
That ripped the jagged hole? What sound
Escaped them as they pitched to ground
To bubble out their scarlet life? What tears,
Welled up to grasp those unsaid fears
Had at last come true! No tears now,
Just swarming flies fill their vacant, sightless eyes.

"SWEET LAND OF LIBERTY…"

Who's turned into a common whore!
She sends her children off to war,
Then turns her back! Corrupted by
Her Politicians pimpish lie,
His selfish greed, his quest for power
Inventing conflicts for the dollar
Creating lies to justify
Sending young boys off to die.
That brings a tarnished bitter shame
To what once was the shining name
Of "Liberty". How besmirched! How profane!
Her people's backs are bent in pain
And tragedy. Their birthright sold
The elected to the rich, the old,
The power men, select, elite,
Who drag this country to their feet.
Big business marries pentagon,
Mindless whore and bitches son
Whose raging coupling rampant runs.

"OF THEE I SING……"

But sung with broken voice and heart
To Glory which was once a part
Of pride, not shame. This country
Rich and rising from the sea
Designed for man's integrity
Blessed by Freedom's pure sweet thought,
By countless lives, so costly bought,
So dear the deadly price
Of sweat, blood, toil and sacrifice
Of common men who shared the dream,
Their clear, fresh message brightly beamed
To shine world turmoil and its dark…
Now, 'tis but a battered, weary spark
Deflowered, debauched, depraved, debased,
A blight upon the might race
Of men who kept this country strong.
Their hopes, their dreams, their ringing song
Lie stilled, forevermore.

"LAND WHERE MY FATHERS DIED…"

So quiet they sleep the countryside
Where in the name of country's pride
They fought they fell, they bled, they died
In patriotic genocide. Every man once was a son
Who as a boy would laugh, would run,
Would warm his mother's loving heart, would play
His little childhood games, at night would lay
In sleepy bed awaiting mother's tender kiss
Goodnight. Such innocence, such joyous bliss.
Too soon, the lad became the man,
His country called he took its stand
And fell. For what? And why?
Was it right that he should die?
So young, so unfilled, such tragic waste,
His youth and promise lived in haste.
Now lost, destroyed, forever gone.
Forever boys they slumber on
Beneath hushed white crosses stark and still
Whose mute ranks march pastured hill
And keep their lasting peace.

"LAND OF THE PILGRIM'S PRIDE…"

Across the land the unrest spread
As pictures of the young men dead
Fill the nightly news. Now more and more
Reach eighteen and leave for war,
Brother following brother. Slow, rising hate
Makes people march and demonstrate,
Rioting in the streets of shame
Where high aloft the burning flame
Of once, sacred flag now fills the air
With shouts of people in despair!
At last, the great lie stands exposed,
THERE IS NO GAME OF DOMINOES!
Yet, fickle Washington fast denies
They ever fabricated lies
And battle the surging angry forces
With riot guns and trampling horses,
Shooting students in the chest
Whose only crime, was to protest!
A right they were taught, WAS GUARANTEED!
Now fast the spreading cancer seed
Blossoms ugly. Divided camps hard-split the land
Where Freedom's justice used to stand
It lies in shambles with the dream.
As the next generation is caught in between,
Bewildered, confused, filled with helpless rage!
Bastard children of their age!

"FROM EVERY MOUNTAINSIDE…"

The piercing wail of distant train
Echoes faint through misty rain.
The silent family waits alone.
Their son at last is coming home.
Too young to really understand,
The small child clutches Mother's hand
And tells her, "Ma-ma, please, don't cry!"
Mom dabs her swollen reddened eyes
And tries to smile, but more tears come
And course her tight drawn cheeks. Now from
The pale gray west the train appears
And brings a flood of wrenching tears
From the Father who stands alone…apart.
No known words can mend his broken heart
Or fill his loss, those grinding aches
Of anguish, the crushing agony that breaks
And kills the spirit of a man.
Now darkness gathers on the land
As slow the puffing, hissing train
Creeps to its stop. The driving rain
Softens in the gloom. A rasping slide
Of box-car doors, and there inside
The shadowed coffin rests alone
As Johnny at last, comes marching home
To sleep his endless dream.

"LET FREEDOM RING…."

This mindless war drags on and on,
Too slow the nights, too fast the dawns,
Too cold the rains, too hot the day,
Across wet fields, cruel bullets play.
Through angry skies swift warplanes shriek,
Through steaming jungles tired men creep,
Patrol…now probe…now full contact!
Air-Strikes! Artillery Strikes! Medivac!
A year of wounded, screaming men,
The haunting gape of a dead man's grin
With that startled look of half-surprise
Eternally mirrored in lifeless eyes.
A booby-traps "snap" and sudden roar!
Instant death and bloody gore!
The slap and whine of bullets singing…
…the haunting sounds of "Freedom Ringing"…

UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD

The small bird chirped quietly,
From his barren branch.
He shuffled his feathers
And chirped again,
Proclaiming and establishing
His territorial rights.

Not a breeze
Stirred the empty clearing.
Like ghostly sentinels,
The battle-splintered trees
Stand their lonely vigil
On the silent outskirts.

The men lay still
In the rich, red mud
In awkward configurations.
It was difficult to tell
Which one belonged?
To which nation?

Their stiff arms
Seemed to stretch out
Reaching for each other.
It was almost, as if
Universal brotherhood
Had at last… been realized.

by Curt Bennett

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

Good Morning

They shuffled down in noiseless file,
Gaunt apparitions whose hollow eyes
Stare blankly out from sunken sockets,
Whose swollen tongues crack scaled lips,
Scab sores ooze pus and swarming flies,
Through dirty, soiled flak jackets.

Assholes flame dysentery, brown fluid trickles
The crotchless trousers where jungle rot
Reddens, chafes and burns with each step.
Ripped jungle boots ring-bleached salt-sweat
Through rotting socks encasing fungus feet
They endlessly plod, gray ghosts of dawn.

Silently they pass, eternal warriors
Towards their unknown, to their death and hell.
Whispering shadows blending with the foggy light
In the ancient ritual of men marching to battle,
Quietly they slide away merging in the bush,
Disappearing into the mist of time.

by Curt Bennett

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January 2017

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