My dad wrote a poem yesterday and sent to me. I asked if I could post it, and he graciously agreed. If you don’t know my dad, you’re missing out. He’s an amazing guy. Extremely intelligent and very loving. A great grandfather to my kids. It was his love of books that motivated me to read a lot as a kid. Westerns, mysteries, thrillers, war histories. My dad reads it all. He’s also a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the Civil War or the Second World War. If there was a version of Jeopardy in which all of the categories were about the Civil War, my dad would have dominated, and I would have been raised as a child of privilege from all the winnings.
Dad also was in the military at the tail end of the Vietnam War. He thankfully was never thrown into action in Vietnam, but he saw plenty of action as a military police officer and criminal investigator after the war in Germany. If you ever want to hear a crazy story about soldiers doing stupid things and getting arrested for it, talk to my dad.
But enough gushing. You came for the poem. I happen to like it a lot, partly because Dad wrote it, but also because it moves me and prickles at the heart, which all good poetry should, I suppose. Enjoy.
Old Soldier’s Lament
The battlefields are still and green,
No longer torn asunder;
Where blood once flowed in rivulets,
And cannons boomed like thunder.
The earth fills our foxholes now,
The shrapnel rusts away;
Earth’s marks of war are fading,
But our scars are here to stay.
Our heads are gray or balding,
And our legs no longer run.
Our bodies stooped and aging,
And our turn has nearly come.
That time comes so swiftly now;
The veil grows thinner still,
The sounds of war will fade away,
When we rest upon the hill.
Our memories leave us laughing,
Weeping, waiting in kind,
For the time we step beyond the veil,
To see comrades left behind.
Each day we lose a brother,
To fill the ranks afar,
Beyond this earth and clouded sky;
Past a bright distant star.
They have waited very long for us,
To join their ranks once more,
To march together side by side,
But not this time to war.
David R. Johnston