Luke Connelly – The War at Hand- A Collection of Poems

Introduction: The following poems represent the  anguish and sadness of looking back at history to see other times of turmoil. This collection of poems is meant to represent that we are in this together, and although we haven’t fought any enemy quite like this, we can do it. The poems represent the connection while in isolation that we have seen and achieved in this time of struggle.

My Father’s Son

I stood there on the steps of my home,

As my father stared me in the eyes

I wore tattered clothes and boots too high

My mother wailing as I said goodbye

And yet my father said nothing

I wasn’t even seventeen

the lanterns were lit in the corner of my eye

Up in the tower of the old North church

I said goodbye to my sister Jean

And again I said farewell to my father to no avail

We knew this day would eventually come

When I would have to walk the blood soaked path of a soldier

Step after step yard after yard

I couldn’t understand why this was so hard

I looked back when I got to the rickety gate,

but I didn’t see a hateful face

Just a man standing in place

And as I kept walking on, I remembered when I was so young

 My father had given me a wooden gun

It was a gift from him to me

 But it seemed like so much more

Was it merely just a toy

 I thought as I marched over the stone bridge

I realized something I hadn’t before

I remembered George Washington at Valley Forge

 and I knew I must fight

But what about that lonesome night

when I was delivered the beating, I so much deserved

When I hated my father with every nerve

When I thought that he was so weak.

When I saw the tear running down his cheek,

But now I realize as I walk this fateful path

That tear was for me, not out of wrath

And as I saw the light of the camp

I turned heel and ran back to my old farm

and as I entered the gate, he embraced me

all the courage and bravery in the world couldn’t make me fight

with my whole world in sight

and as I looked in my family’s eye

my mother so worried my father awry

my brother and sister asleep with the soundless night

I left again with a purpose to fight


The War of Brothers

The dawn broke clear

a hot new day

over a regiment of Jackson’s best in tattered gray

they gazed with apprehension over a cottonfield

hoping beyond hope their opponents would yield

One of them a Georgia lad

woke up that morning feeling particularly bad

for his greatest fear would soon be realized

his little brother was fighting on the other side

brother against brother the papers had initially claimed

but the war had lost its lust for the dead and maimed

he loved his little brother and feared for his life

if only he could protect him and miss all this strife

Then they came the bluecoats marching in, the bugles blowing,

the cannons firing, the thousands of men

marching up the hill

shooting as they came

aiming to kill he looked down the sight of his father’s gun

given to him as the eldest son

when suddenly he gave the startled shout

for in his sight was the boy he most cared about

It seemed impossible to reach out to him

he needed to do something, but the chances were slim

 he dropped the gun and rushed over the fence

his comrades gaped as he sped towards the union defense

his brother started to raise his weapon

then suddenly stopped with a look of recognition

amidst the war the blood and gore

the two brothers towards each other tore

in no man’s land, they both would race

the two meeting each other in a strong embrace

the two boys connected in an unusual way

their love for each other above the fray

 The battle raged in the August heat

neither side wanting to admit defeat

Until later in the day the union withdrew

leaving a field covered with gray and blue

and there in the middle of no man’s land

lay two young men connected hand to hand

 brotherly love had won the day

the two brothers died, together they lay


Lucy

This war will never end

Daniel thought as he rounded the bend

and he marched into the dark black of night

he thought about his family his beautiful Lucy White

how he loved her so

and yet he left Lucy to fight long ago

he thought about his actions

about the war and the slaughtered and murdered factions

there she was running, no sprinting ever near

he could see the deep blue in her eyes filled with fear

“Daniel,” she cried

“Daniel…”

She vanished as the rain turned into a harsh pour

he ran through the night during this Great War, and as he marched to his certain death, all he thought was the expression she bore, he looked to his right to see a blood-ridden grimace

a man on the ground so beaten and finished

with every gust came a new note of Lucy’s beautiful yet lonely song

suddenly he wasn’t in western Italy in the heart of the war

he was on his parent’s creaky porch swing

in the swimming hole listening to the bird’s sing

he was snuggled up to the fire in his West Virginia home

listening to his mother rock back and forth in her wooden chair

he was in her arms no feeling of fear

Just as sleep was about to snatch him away

the sound of gunfire rang out

he didn’t know which way to turn

in every direction, men were falling

more shots rang out he thought he should run

men were slamming into each other

looking for cover where there was none

all he saw was Lucy

he felt like he was punched in the shoulder

he hit the stone cold ground as blood soaked his uniform

Lucy was still echoing throughout the walls of the canyon

as he took his final breath choking with blood

a tear fell from his eye and into the mud

for Lucy.


My little girl

A car exploded to my right a person shot to my left

I was in the middle of a one-sided fight

surrounded by chaos and death

I ran for cover from the enemy above

the fire came from everywhere

I stared out into the street

and saw a little girl with a tattered dress

a familiar face in all this stress

coming down the road a Japanese fighter

a fifty caliber machine gun mountain to its breast

but it wouldn’t stop me from doing what I should

I ran to grab her

I sprinted her way

not caring about the fight on this terrible day

I snatched her up in my arms

as blood started soaking my uniform

the place I took shelter minutes before

was ash and rubble and nothing more

I ran in a house nearby as I saw a tear running down her eye

she pointed at my chest

as a bloody red enveloped my uniformed breast

we started crying as I sat her down

it was my daughter that I had found

I hugged her with all my might

as I sat there waiting to pass

I told her I loved her with every breath until the last

Battle of the Bulge

On the field, I am crying

well I lay here dying

and I think about my time at war

but I hear the voice of my mate Dan

“Dan,” I called, and this way he ran

not three-hundred yards off before it got him

one in his breastplate, one in his hand,

but he kept on running over this forbidden land

over holes and craters, bullets and mortars

Dan was coming to my side

only two-hundred yards away

and I started to pray

that I see my friend Dan again

he was coming ever near

when I realized my fear

something blew him off his feet

screaming his name

I had myself to blame

but I saw him emerge from the crater

blood on his face and a tear in his eye

he crawled his way to my side

and blood oozed from every crack and crevice

“I knew that I would die

but I had to say goodbye

I knew I had to come when you called me.”

Dan said as his spit turned a bloody red

and we smiled from ear to ear as we met our deaths out there,

but it wasn’t sad to die

because I knew the man at my side

and I knew I’d see him soon

not in the sand and dunes

but in a warless paradise


The Shelter

He lay in the rice paddy in Vietnam

watching the villagers struck with napalm

bitterly hating this ugly war

not understanding what they were fighting it for

he had no way of getting to his hut

soldiers surrounded, and his feet were cut,

but his family was inside hidden away

he felt so helpless as in the patty he lay

as darkness approached he decided to take a chance

if he could just go to the house over the backyard fence

and with bleeding feet he stealthily tread

grimacing with pain he moved ahead

the searchlight flashed as he climbed over

soldiers yelled as he dashed for cover

across the yard and into the house

muzzles flashed, but he ignored the shouts

the bottom of the hut concealed the door

that led to the tunnel under the floor

here he dove in quickly and turned the key

the confusion above revealed that they could not see

and down in the shelter at the end of the hall

he found his baby, so tender and small

in the arms of his wife scared but strong

and there was his son four years along

he breathed a sigh of tearful relief

the reunion had seemed impossible in this napalmed grief

he thanked his father for his foresight

in building the shelter that saved his family that night.


Epidemic

We sit here in our homes so far away from who we love.

and we wait for the day in history when we can leave our couch.

the sickness spreads, and so many are dead, and yet we help by doing nothing.

It seems unjust, and we sit here and watch.

Some people are helping, some people giving, but I’m not a nurse, or a doctor, or an

EMT, or firefighter,

and I put a flimsy sign in the window, and yet I congratulate myself!

Oh, how I love the ones who help,

the ones who do what I cannot,

the ones who put others before themselves

for the common good.

This battle that we fight has taken so many lives.

More than 9/11, more than Vietnam. This invisible enemy is hiding.

He hides not in the hills, canyons, or jungles. He hides in the homeland,

he hides in our homes in our supermarkets!

We must fight this invisible enemy with our Netflix subscriptions and comfortable sofas. We will succeed by ordering from home, and pulling the trigger on the enemy. The trigger of our Lysol spray cans,

the Agent Orange of our battle.

If we do these things: stay at home, order online, stay armed with our Lysol cans and Purell dispensers, we will prevail.

I make this announcement to you from the fortress of my home because I too am fighting against the enemy.

Even though this invisible enemy is greater

and more widespread than ever before, we will succeed.

I know we will prevail because we have shown our strength on fields before: the fields of Concord and Lexington, the fields of Antietam and Gettysburg, the hills and canyons and roads and villages of Western Europe, the rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam.

Now we fight on the fields of our couches, we barricade ourselves with Amazon packages and toilet paper stashes, we fight, we will succeed.

We have been training all our lives for this exact form of battle.

With a TV remote in hand I say we will be victorious!

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