Friday, May 22, 2009

Remembering Old Friends

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died serving my country. This is a great time to honor our veterans, and to remember those we have known, and have made a difference in our lives.

When I look back, I remember some veterans who did not die in a war, but were forever changed. Here’s a poem about one very special man that I will honor this weekend. Maybe someday this day will be a thing remembered from long ago. I pray so.

Old Soldier

Sitting on the loading dock,
some damn fool would always say
something to get him started.
A word or phrase, a headline or jab
would send him down that road.

It was never those of us
who had been in the service.
When it started we’d look away,
down at our feet,
zone out to another place.

His face would go gray, he’d shake
and look across the years and
even in January the sweat
would drip from his nose
along with the tears.
And he’d tell the story again.

You could almost see him in that foxhole,
back in France, fighting for his breath.
The enemy tank above him,
his guys down the road firing everything
they had at it and him screaming
every time the tank shelled their position.

The dirt in his mouth,
the smell of gunpowder and urine all around.
All day buried until the tank moved off
and his pals came and dug him out.

It always ended the same,
him wiping the tears on his sleeve,
embarrassed, gathering his lunch box,
limping back to the storeroom.

The damn fools who started it all
headed back to work, laughing and giggling.
Those of us who avoided crowds,
always faced the door,
flinched at loud noises,
just sat there
struggling for breath.

©Robert W. Kimsey
Kudzu 2006


  1. Robert what a lovely heart breakingly sad poem. I don't know if you know a singer by the, name of John Prine. He has a song called Sam Stone about a war veteran. They come back broken sometimes breaks that are seen, some that aren't. My father recieved a purple heart in Korea. He was proud of his service but never spoke of it except with other veterens, they were the only ones who knew what he spoke of.

  2. A touching poem that always gets to me, Robert.
    Perfect for Memorial Day.