Author's Note: In responding to this month’s theme of “what has war meant to you?” the poem “Civil Wars” glances at my youthful confrontation with the US Selective Service System. I told that story more fully in a piece titled “Commitment” that was published by 3288 Review and is also available on Medium.com. Recent publications include poems about Ukraine in New Verse News and talking trees in Sunlight Press.
What war meant to me: staying in school keeping your deferment, my father and I, who never talked to one another about our lives, staring at the screen when an image appeared from “The March on the Pentagon,” shots of protestors, a gesturing spokesman, a “We Won’t Go” sign – Dad said, “Oh, that’s last weekend…” “I was there.” “I thought you might be.” No further exchange of views followed Dad never spoke of his war until his final decade Even when my older cousins marveled over the souvenir German rifle in the basement the story was like pulling the dragon’s teeth I had secrets of my own When the Selective Service mailed my punitive reclassification notice to the parental home address, Dad threw me an anxious glance “Don’t tell me you’ve gotten yourself in trouble with those people!” I denied it, like the cowardly apostle at the crucifixion The truth was, both like and unlike Dad, I would never share my story with my family: I had.
Today Is Beautiful, We Have Things To Do*
Love the Earth Keep a bird and learn how to fly Write a love letter to a person you’ve never told you love (right, I bet I’ll do that) Grow something Do the thing you’ve put off every damn day since you first thought ‘I’ve gotta…’ – Yeah, I have a list for that too Learn to scold like a crow, an animal with an agenda, or suck life from the ground like a rodent with a signal-system fluffy tail, natives with an equal claim on the environment you purport to love, jail-rioters of earth’s surface tension keeping the plant population under the feeder down Worship the early perennials, the first of that faithful army who each year remake the Earth inside us Today is beautiful – Damn! Actually, any day is beautiful My advice, Self, is get your fanny out of doors and worship the elements as thyself as you, and all your ancestors, once did Sacrifice, that is, at least an hour or two to the feel of time passing to wandering, looking about, feeling the season… and, dammit, we have things to do. *Title is borrowed from the song of that name by Chequerboard
Everybody Wants to Rule the World*
I want: to relive each day to grow no older to love everyone I ever met as if theirs were the most desirable soul in the universe To rewind all the memory traces back to the places where the memories are made, like hot buns from the oven, or bagels maybe, scooped from boiling foam or shared pizzas, dogs at our feet waiting for the bones of ideas, on the long march to the last frontier from nowhere to everywhere Among so many wants: to sit in the sun of another star and call out, with loving knowledge, the elemental virtues of all the souls I have known or, perhaps, possessed within my own as they flash by on their own reborning journey to those other places, other times in the gratified universes of which all knowledge is elemental, elementary, and wholly unpossessed *After the instrumental song of this title by Tears for Fears
©2022 Robert Knox
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to say what it is about the poem you like. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL