Young Men And Women Do Volunteer (Nested Landays)

Young men and women do volunteer

To fight for their country to the death, showing no fear

 

Their orders arrive just as they would

Off they go overseas in the hopes of doing good

 

Then there’s reality, oh the shock

Our core cultural values, by their ways they do rock

 

Women are property, used for sex

Sold to the highest bidder, the western mind perplexed

 

Wanting to react, but told they can’t

They turn a blind eye, though to each other they do rant

 

Lying in their cots, many tears shed

This war was not what they thought, they have all been misled

 

Romantic ideas, wars of the past

Live only in the movies there’s no way they could last

 

War is not romantic, kill and maim

Each victim has a mother and each face has a name

 

Someones left mourning, crying revenge

Seeking to draw blood, to honor loved ones they avenge

 

How do pray tell, will this cycle end

When it’s all about oil, our interests they pretend

 

After a decade, I doubt it will

The military industries haven’t had their fill

 

When this war ends another will come

Reasoned by our government, just watch and see their fun

 

Be sure and take my word, more will die

No matter how we complain, no matter how we try

 

As always, our young will volunteer

Believing propaganda from mongers they will hear

 

Gung-ho with ideals, noble ‘tis true

Witnessed in commercials they’re the brave, the proud, the few

 

Til God forbid the time ever comes

You gaze into their eyes, pull the trigger of the gun

 

From that moment on your life will change

You become a killer, a feeling that must be strange

 

Hoping that the reasons are pure, true

To live with such an action, the rest of your life through

 

Mourn for those who died and those alive

They will never be the same no matter how they strive

 

Mourn this generation raised with war

Think about the reasons, they are poisoned to the core

 

What kind of legacy will we leave

One that’s draped in death, they are constantly left to grieve

 

Can this end before it is too late

I pray that it can or destruction will be our fate


~~ Dominic R. DiFrancesco ~~

 

NOTE: Origination Afghanistan – a landay has only a few formal properties. Each has twenty-two syllables: nine in the first line, thirteen in the second. The poem ends with the sound “ma” or “na.” Sometimes they rhyme, but more often not. In Pashto, they lilt internally from word to word in a kind of two-line lullaby that belies the sharpness of their content, which is distinctive not only for its beauty, bawdiness, and wit, but also for the piercing ability to articulate a common truth about war, separation, homeland, grief, or love. Within these five main tropes, the couplets express a collective fury, a lament, an earthy joke, a love of home, a longing for the end of separation, a call to arms, all of which frustrate any facile image of a Pashtun woman as nothing but a mute ghost beneath a blue burqa.  The full description and some history of the form can be found at poetryfoundation.org.  I took some liberties with this form as it does not translate perfectly into English.  I did maintain the 9 and 13 syllables per line format, but eliminated the “ma” or “na” ending sound requirement opting instead to rhyme which can occur with this form.

War Damages More Than Earth And Enemy

War damages more than earth and enemy.

Its scars not always visible disfigure,

Taking more than life and limb.

Those once docile and kind seethe with anger

Tearing family, home and heart to shreds.

Longing to coddle the child we once knew

We only serve to alienate.

As a result we remain silent,

Helpless against the inner demons that torment.

We pray they make it back home in one piece,

Yet coming to terms with that which we cannot see

…There is now way to prepare for.

 

~~ Dominic R. DiFrancesco ~~

 

Pain You Cannot See

Pain you cannot see,

Can be heard–

In the wavering of words,

Can be seen–

In the worried expression.

Reliving the past in waking dreams;

Speaking to the invisible that seem so real;

Returning to the present awash with anger.

Ravages of war do not always leave visible wounds–

For the visible may be treated with scalpel and stitch.

That which is unseen may be the most devastating of all,

Lasting a lifetime,

Tormenting, demonizing, incapacitating,

Shattering the spirit.

We see this on the streets,

We see this in the shelters,

We see it on the cardboard signs

And in the tin cans held out by dirty hands,

No place is immune.

These are the ones we turn away,

Diverting our eyes,

Ignoring them as a nuisance,

Wishing they would just go away.

Does not their sacrifice grant them better?

They gave when called,

Offering life and limb;

Permitting us the pursuit of our happiness.

Yet what do we offer in return?

Nothing but contempt.

~

~~ Dominic R. DiFrancesco ~~

 

Bittersweet Welcome Home

They come back to no fanfare

No parades

No cheering crowds

No ticker tape

Forgotten but for the relief of  their loved ones

Scars are not always etched in blood

So cuts are unseen and more debilitating to the flesh

They hide all they have seen and heard

The things that changed them

Smiling as they always do

Cordial though their language has become harsher

Colored with the profanity perfected through months living in squalor

They do not talk in details as they prefer to forget

Driving the pain and memories deep below consciousness

They pray them never to return

Their minds standing strong in defense of sanity

What do we say to them

What do we do for them

I’ve asked myself this a thousand times

Hold their hands

Embrace them

Love them more than you have ever loved them

Comfort them when they cry

Reassure them when they flinch

Hold them tight when dreams shatter their sleep

They are not who you knew before

Their lives have been forever changed

Engendered through terror and courage in the face of unknown enemies

We must be there for them

This is all I or anyone can do

 

~~ D. R. DiFrancesco ~~