In mind.

catalpa, heart-shaped and boney
your daddy died years ago,
in redress of his mind, where I leave
my fingers on the stone,
and I’ll never see him, he is just a rock
he is just a worm;
you’ve been in my mind
but never knew me,
I tire; death
is half the stradivarius of the birds
and their strings of gut
than it is mystifying or
inbound
to limb
by limb
and the shadow of their men.
The root of rock
tree limbs near
Anchinia cristalis
their moth wings
in arias
and woodland
mincing and misplanted
in raw-boned eulogy after eulogy
and I’ve never known him
this man of earth, of war
and weedy cypress, lizards
and their fluted skins
married to the wind;
phantom epistles
from Vietnam
fed by labored tumuli,
plummeted fingers into the ground
fall and drown, fall and drown.

© 2020 lucysworks.com All Rights Reserved.

Posted for the dVerse MTB prompt: Write a Protest Poem with a theme (e.g. voting, social justice, peace & war, violence, women’s rights, human rights, environment, pandemic, etc).

This is not quite a protest poem, but I think it communicates the same idea about what war takes away from us, including our loved ones who either passed in war or lived through their traumas until the end of their life.

Originally published at Ephemeral Elegies. I dedicated this to my Grandfather who served in the Vietnam War, passing away years later in my early childhood.


  62 comments for “In mind.

  1. September 24, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    How sad, when war leaves us with shadows of their soldiers, forever traumatized by what they have seen. I wonder if you are for or against that war?
    Lucy, I can’t imagine the hell some people have gone through. Your lines here are stellar:

    and I’ll never see him, he is just a rock
    he is just a worm;

    and
    in raw-boned eulogy after eulogy
    and I’ve never known him
    this man of earth, of war

    Liked by 3 people

    • September 24, 2020 at 3:59 pm

      Oh, yes, I agree with you very much. It’s haunting and terrifying what they go through, and they come back never the same.

      I’m against the Vietnam War. I think it was a war that wasn’t needed, and it either ended many lives or it left these lives with long-lasting trauma and PTSD. This was a war “justified” by the domino theory and the fear of the spread of communism. Involvement in Vietnam, I personally think was not needed. It’s saddening what these soldiers were put through, and my Grandfather as one of them, he was psychologically tormented from it.

      I thank you for your heartfelt comment and feedback, Grace. Thank you. ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. September 24, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    I think this is very potent in its sadness, in the needless wars which the mere mention of Vietnam paints.
    A grave is in itself a protest.

    Liked by 2 people

    • September 24, 2020 at 4:00 pm

      Thank you, Björn. You are indeed correct and I find myself stunned too from it. A grave is a protest. Truer words have never been spoken. Thank you so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. September 24, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    Behind the simple title lies a complex poem about the effects of war. A deeply touching poem, Lucy, from the point of view of a child who didn’t have the chance to meet and get to know their grandfather. The lines that sang to me are:
    ‘…death
    is half the stradivarius of the birds
    and their strings of gut’
    and
    ‘their moth wings
    in arias
    and woodland
    mincing and misplanted
    in raw-boned eulogy after eulogy.’
    The ones that broke my heart are:
    ‘…I’ve never known him
    this man of earth, of war

    phantom epistles
    from Vietnam’.

    Liked by 3 people

    • September 24, 2020 at 4:07 pm

      Kim, I thank you greatly. Vietnam took away so much, and in its aftermath, it took away peace for these men and gave them waking nightmares, the ones who survived and came back home. My Grandfather suffered. When I was a child, he passed away and I never got to know him well or even at all, quite honestly. Vietnam didn’t kill him at first, but in the end, I believe it did if that makes sense.

      Thank you for your kind words and analysis. ❤ ❤ It means a lot.

      Liked by 2 people

      • December 22, 2020 at 4:09 am

        I find this quite hard to read. The poem, and the comments. The beauty makes it all the more painful. “I don’t know him.” I said to my therapist last week (about a Grandad I didn’t meet) “I don’t know what he went through in the war, but I know he turned to drink.”
        I think (especially when it comes to family) we share more experiences than most of us realize…I hope that makes sense 🙏

        Liked by 2 people

      • December 22, 2020 at 3:22 pm

        I am so sorry, Kay. My Grandfather coped in similar ways after what he went through.

        I believe that too. Thank you for sharing and for reading my piece. Hugs. ❤ ❤

        Liked by 2 people

  4. sanaarizvi
    September 24, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    This is deeply poignant! You portray the horrors of war and aftermath with finesse.

    Liked by 3 people

    • September 24, 2020 at 4:07 pm

      Thank you so much, Sanaa. ❤

      Like

  5. September 24, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    It communicates that idea heartbreakingly, Lucy.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. September 24, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    A beautiful poem outlining the harsh realities of war and it’s aftermath 💖

    Liked by 2 people

  7. September 24, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    War, whether justified or not justified — depends on who is talking — leaves its undelible (sp?) stain upon its participants. I’ve seen it in too many loved ones and acquaintances. A very powerful protest poem, Lucy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • September 24, 2020 at 5:31 pm

      So very true, Lisa. Whether justified or not, it indeed leaves an impact on those who served and how it affects their families as well. Thank you for your comment. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. September 24, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Lucy my comment disappeared. If it doesn’t surface again, let me know, ok?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Glenn A. Buttkus
    September 24, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    Lucy in the sky with protestations–hear, hear. There is a whole genre of war protest poems, and this piece could stand on parade with any of them. Viet Nam was my war. Your poem conjures the ghosts of comrades and friends. You might enjoy HERE, BULLET by Brian Turner about the Iraq war.

    Liked by 2 people

    • September 24, 2020 at 5:33 pm

      Thank you so, so much, Glenn. I’m so sorry to hear about your comrades and friends. War is indeed hell, and my heart goes out to you. I will also be sure to check out that poem.

      Like

  10. Shawna
    September 24, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    “I’ve never known him
    this man of earth, of war
    and weedy cypress, lizards
    and their fluted skins”

    Sigh. Your writing is so gorgeous. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 24, 2020 at 5:34 pm

      Oh, I thank you so much. ❤ ❤

      Like

  11. September 24, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    I like how you link death with the natural world of corruption. The rendering down of flesh and blood by beetles and worms.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. September 24, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    I like how nature invades your poem

    Liked by 2 people

  13. September 24, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    Not many can describe the aftermath of war with such eloquence. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. September 24, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    You’ve been in my mind, but never knew me!! Love this line…. life passed on as we die off and turn to stone, but really to the earth to be reborn in all that arises.
    Well done!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. September 25, 2020 at 2:02 am

    The elegiac tone of this piece comes through so well – the repetitions ‘tire’ ‘rock’, ‘limbs’ ‘raw boned eulogy is a beauty – and the wonderful broken rhymes – ‘to limb / by limb/ and the shadow of their men’. Like limbs scattered on a battlefield. Visceral wonderful writing Lucy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • September 25, 2020 at 8:32 am

      Thank you, Peter. 💕

      Like

  16. September 25, 2020 at 4:47 am

    I like this, Lucy. It’s a different palette to your usual work – softer, sepia tones. It works very well. The repetition works well in a poem about loss and grief.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. September 25, 2020 at 6:10 am

    kaykuala
    in redress of his mind, where I leave
    my fingers on the stone,
    and I’ll never see him, he is just a rock

    There they are, plain cold tombstone, that’s all left. Vietnam and now practically everywhere war undeclared make life really miserable. Protest as we do but politics and power play are of higher consideration. Brilliant references to many beautiful contrasts, Lucy. Ma’am!

    Hank

    Liked by 3 people

  18. September 25, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    It’s exceptionally powerful with its windy distant address, picking up the remnants of a ghostly harrow sixty years past. Sublime, too, for the way its meaning is woven so deeply under the surface.

    Liked by 3 people

    • September 25, 2020 at 5:49 pm

      Brendan, I really appreciate that. Thank you so much.

      Like

  19. September 25, 2020 at 7:38 pm

    Your poem is deep, powerful, sobering.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. September 25, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    A brilliant piece about a not so brilliant world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 25, 2020 at 8:46 pm

      Thank you so much, Eugenia.

      Like

  21. September 26, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Lucy, your poetry is absolutely superb. In fact superb does not even begin to describe it.
    “I tire; death
    is half the stradivarius of the birds
    and their strings of gut
    than it is mystifying or
    inbound
    to limb
    by limb..

    Liked by 1 person

  22. September 27, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    Deeply touching Lucy. I was a lucky one. I was in Army ROTC for two years while at university, on my way to be an Infantry 2nd Lieutenant. Right before I was due to “up” into active full time duty, the 1969 Viet Nam draft lottery happened — and my birth date number was 292… so I never had to go “in country”. But far too many of my high school and college friends died physically or mentally in that most unfortunate war. Well written here Lucy… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • September 27, 2020 at 4:49 pm

      I’m so sorry, Rob, about your friends.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Mannishiblog
    September 28, 2020 at 2:27 am

    ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Zainab Batool
    October 11, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    This is exceptional!! 🌬✨

    Liked by 2 people

  25. December 22, 2020 at 4:34 pm

    Thank you Lucy, I am in tears. I’m greatful for your verses, for your grandfather in Vietnam. The scar continues burn. Thank you for remembering, noting it. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • December 22, 2020 at 5:08 pm

      Thank you, my friend. I thank you so much. ❤️❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  26. April 15, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    Even if I do not know what it is like to be at war… I can make such a term as “war” to be simply defined as “protection”.

    Even for what I currently do, in taking care of my GF through her poverty, I still comprehend the pain (my worries) is honorable enough to keep going. I love to take care, of her. And, I would be willing to break a thousand more times, just to keep her safe. If this is a “soldier’s mind”, despite how I’ve never been to war, then so be it.

    I suffer in the repression of trauma. As well, I suffer in the guilt for what I’ve done wrong. As well, I question the meaning behind my life, at times. Just recently, I’ve been diagnosed with Tuberculosis, because of the stress-levels.

    I’ve never made at attempt on my life, though my GF attempted it four times over, after we broke up for a while. I could not even process it, during each time she tried it. I was too much in the grief of the heartbreak.

    I have 1,600 poems written in her name, all on my blog. I have promised to one day to become a doctor that I may cure her, of what is preventing us from being married. It is because I am loyal to who I love.

    If war is Hell, then in my own battles, I am always looking over my shoulder to see the one I will return to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 29, 2021 at 7:25 am

      I am so sorry for what both of you have been through. It takes great strength to try and overcome your battles and I’m glad you can resonate with my poem in that way too. War can be literal (as is) or mental; I believe the aftermath in suffering or suffering itself is a war we fight.

      Much love and peace to you and your gf. When we have our loved ones close, it might not make the war better, but it makes it better to endure and persevere throughout.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. April 29, 2021 at 12:00 am

    Hauntingly deep and moving. It reminds me of my Mum telling me about her Grandad, not long before she died, and how studying for her counseling degree (in her final years on earth) filled her with compassion for him and made her see him in a completely new light. He suffered from shell shock after the war and it left its indelible mark on him, much like you shared of your own Grandad.

    Thank you for this gift of words to linger in and ponder.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 29, 2021 at 7:05 am

      Thank you for sharing your story. ❤️ It’s very powerful how we can see people in a new perspective, perhaps one we haven’t thought of before. I’m glad you could resonate with this and I thank you so much for your lovely words.

      Like

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