Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Archive for the tag “war”

July 4, 1976

July 4, 1976
You walked slowly through the crowds
as the Grand Marshal of the Parade
waved
and though he’d never been to war
was a hero to all
having played one
in countless roles.

At the edge of Cody
time stood still
as cars passed
by without consideration.

Although received wisdom
followed
more often than not
brings untoward results,
you decided to separate
and at a later point
reunite.

After crossing the street
you threw your backpack at your feet,
heading in the wrong direction.

You glanced to see
a pick-up pulling over
and your cousin
running towards it.

But it abruptly stopped
and a brawny man
jumped out
and began hollering
as if he were a drill sergeant
and his victim
a young recruit.

You quickly approached.

“What’s the hassle, man?”

Disbelief struck his face,
before he continued
his tirade.

“I fought in the war
and don’t like you all
comin’
in our part of the country
with your ideas.”

“My dad fought in the war!
Your country?
What in the hell
does that mean?”

“That’s it with you
and your kind.
You don’t have to tell me
what your ideas are…”

“We don’t believe in our country
is that what you think?”

Days earlier you had passed
the holy mountain
that manifest destiny defaced
in the state whose senator had won the flying cross
but was denounced as wanting
peace at any price.

“Don’t be smart asses with me.
You reds don’t know
the first thing
about country.”

“Reds? Where’d you get that idea?”

“Just you two get out of here
cause if you’re not,
I’ll be back later
with friends.”

In a huff he hopped back in
and sped away
clouds of dust
rising up.

Patriotism

Samuel Johnson said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

I’m inclined to agree with the caveat that the word means many things to many people in the same way Christianity or Socialism does.

To my mind, a true patriot is someone like Marlene Dietrich.  When Hitler came to power, she was living abroad. Some years later she was approached by Nazi officials promising whatever she wanted if she would only return. (And people do make such concessions, consider Klaus Mann’s brilliant Mephisto.) During a wartime interview she said, “Boys, don’t sacrifice yourselves. The war is crap and Hitler’s an idiot.”

During her 1960 tour of Germany she was spat upon by a woman who shouted,  “I hate this woman! She betrayed Germany in the war.”

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, her body was reburied in Berlin next to her mother as was the wish in her will. In 1993 her grave was desecrated.

Listen to her sing.  And remember:

On Mitchell’s Introduction to The Iliad

“The ancient epic poems by Homer and Virgil, the medieval French epic The Song of Roland, Shakespeare’s Henry V, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22— each of these works takes war as a mirror of human nature, in all its fear and hope. But of all great literature about war, none concentrates more fiercely than Homer’s ancient Greek epic The Iliad on the dark, pointless brutalities that are part of human combat.”

Catch-22 is an interesting inclusion.

However much The Iliad concentrates on “pointless brutalities” I don’t think Mitchell is claiming it is anti-war in the sense we might think Aristophanes’ Lysistrata was.

“Legend has it that he was blind, but there is no actual evidence to support this.”

The idea of being blind, of course, meant he could really see.

“…blindness in Ancient Greek culture. Deprivation of light is almost as undesirable as death, yet blindness bestows a status of distinction in a culture where choice between light and honor is difficult.Blindness is punishment for breaking the limits of human knowledge, yet it is also the means to insight (truth-vision of metaphysical light). The (polluted) blind seers and poets enjoy the highest religious, social and political powers.”    http://www.bernidaki.eu/resources/263_reviews_book_gr_en.pdf

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