The Belles of Picardy

… during
the Vietnam War
I became a conscientious objector

I looked with horror
at photographs of overcrowded cemeteries
with no room left to bury the dead

tombstones lined up shoulder to shoulder
on the landscape of Europe
like soldiers marching to their death

I remember
the photograph
of my father in uniform
bringing to mind that he had indeed
been one of the lucky ones
who had made it back in one piece
from the Pacific Theatre

in my head I heard bells tolling
hammering to the beat of foot marches
an anthem to the dead

and to my brother
who was yet to die the slow death
of Vietnam’s lingering poison

I called it
The Belles of Picardy
an imaginary war march sung by the nymphs
that beckon soldiers

from every cathedral bell tower
in every corner of the world
to the Fields of Flanders
Dunkirk
Da’nang
Iraq
Iran
–hell

coda:
(for years I had watched the dismal gray theater of Eastern Europe
never realizing that what they depicted could one day come true)


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3 responses

  1. Your title seems appropriate and I wish it wasn’t so… but this is a part of life and it is better to call it what it is and maybe one day we can retire the name.

    Liked by 1 person

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