Monday, July 31, 2006

Noble dominos

Noble Dominos, Arlington Cemetery, July 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/560 sec @ f4.6, ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Can you hear them cresting, breaking?
In a sea of green, who has not sinned?
All around me, white-capped warriors
And yet there is no wind

It is ghostly calm and quiet
Such a contrast to the battle call
Rows and rows of noble dominos
In distant lands began to fall

Hear them pray to their God, their savior
Different names they each call out
As they exhale their final breath
The mason’s chisel leaves no doubt

Here they rest, so brave, so honored
Now they’ve paid the ultimate price
Was it worth their final journey?
Did you feel their sacrifice?

Can we really keep the peace
By waging battles bravely fought
As our brothers, sons, and fathers
Reap the victory that we sought

7 comments:

EATING POETRY said...

I love the metaphor. I can see the dominos crashing to the floor...

Steven Crisp said...

I'm going to accept that praise, coming from someone who eats poetry for dinner. Thanks for the visit and the comment. Any pointers gratefully accepted ;-)

Marroniah said...

Steven,

There was a night in my life, many years ago, as I sat awake and very cold in a canvas tent, when it seemed that the end of me would be the same as it was for so many other veterans. There is a certain sense of being resolved to such a fate that only one who has experienced it can really understand. But as it turned out, it was never mine to be harmed in any direct way in the circumstances of my service time, and I am thankful for that.

My sense of things has changed tremendously since those days. I see now the insanity and utter uselessness of war and could never participate in it again. Yet, there is still a victory of sorts in every person who has ever set aside personal comfort or advantage to follow a path that leads to serving a cause larger than oneself, even one as ignominious as serving in the military that you might later regret, on a moral basis, for having been part of.

But on the cot which was my only private space, I revisited the memory of a trip to the Arlington Cemetery that I had made in the summer of '72, and the awesome sense of sadness felt at seeing the endless rows of gravestones there. I wrote in pencil on a memorandum pad these words which, at the time, I thought might just be the last ones I would ever write:

Under countless white-stone rows
Amidst the resting place of souls
Exists for only God to know
The sacrificed against the foe

For those who heard the freedom call
That entered into this honored hall
Where together brothers stood to fall
Giving the gift to give their all

They with the winds that blow about
The anguish wailing cries that shout
Beyond the grave that call without
The noise of restless voice's doubt

Here were those who heard the bell
Tolling virtues beyond the knell
Now holding back the tides of hell
That only they knew so very well

Remember these who've swung the sword
Following conscience to your door
For they have paid the price, dear Lord,
That peace may be the just reward

So when the time for me has come
Regretting I have only one
I give my life with mother's sons
Please bury me in Arlington

Steven Crisp said...

marroniah,

Arlington Cemetery is clearly a powerful and hallowed place. And such conflicting emotions. The loss of our most precious to protect our most cherished.

I'm glad you made it back safely, and I'm glad you saved those words. It is a wonderful poem. Thanks for your service, and your angst.

Honeybee said...

Nice picture to go along with a beautiful poem.

Shveta Puri said...

Very moving poem and picture, you have expressed what i feel many times about war...thats the beauty of poetry i guess!

Steven Crisp said...

Honeybee, thanks for the visit and generous comment. Your presence is always appreciated.

shveta puri, I appreciate your kind words -- especially since poetry is something I'm just dabbling in. Oh I can feel how I would like to write. Someday, perhaps. Please visit again, and OBTW, I enjoyed your blog.