The Day It Was Hot At Dusk

The sun is just beginning to set.

My opponent and I enter the clearing on schedule.

We stand facing each other.

I recall the countless times I have been here before.

                Metal flashes in the sunlight.

                Rapiers clash.

                Blade upon blade.

                Oh how I loved that tone.

                In an instant it is over.

                Steel pierces flesh.

                The look of surprise on his face.

                                One falls, one stands

                                One dies, one walks away

                                                                                Weeping.

So here I stand once again

The heat is unbearable.

It is so hard to breathe.

I am drenched in sweat.

It started as so many others.

An unintentional insult.

The challenge answered.

The look of fear as my identity is revealed.

I glance at my opponent.

He is calmer than before.

So easy, so young, so sure of himself.

He has resigned to let the fates guide him.

We begin.

                Metal reflects the orange tinge of a fading day.

                Rapiers clash.

                Blade upon blade.

                Oh how I have grown to loathe that clamor.

                In an instant it is over.

                Steel renders flesh.

                A look of surprise on his face.

                                One falls, one stands

                                One dies, one walks away

                                                                                Smiling.

Sometime during my junior year of high school, I pulled one of the books my mother had displayed on the previously discussed desk. It was part of a two volume set: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. As I perused the book trying to work my way through Hamlet, I would occasionally skip ahead trying to find anything that would actually catch my interest. At one point somewhere in all of that text, I came across a sword fight scene. Trying to read the scene, I suddenly had the image of two swordsman weapons in hand standing of in quiet clearing. This is the result. I have never tried to pick up The Great Bard again; unless it was an assignment.

The Thousand Screams

It is fall.

The sun sets.

The rays of my existence have almost descended.

The breeze caresses me.

It soothes while it struggles to destroy me.

Soon I will succumb.

My usefulness to the mother is at an end.

No longer will I spend my days nourishing her.

Once I was vibrant, now I’m dull and pale.

Once I was useful, now I’m a burden to be discarded.

I can feel my brothers and sisters surrendering.

They leave us.

They break away from the mother.

Does she not feel anything?

Does she not care?

Why does she discard us?

The wind begins to rip at me.

My tie to the mother is being torn apart.

I begin to fall.

For what seemed like an eternity I plummet.

Finally I land.

I lay there among my siblings.

Pleading, weeping, crying.

We scream out our indignation to deaf ears.

                 In the middle of nowhere,
                 The screams of thousands pierce the evening.
                 Unheeded, unheard, un-mourned. 
                 Except by their own silent mothers.

Background

I first conceived this poem in the summer of 1991. While I was serving in the U.S. Army 4th Battalion 34th Armored Division as a 19D10 Cavalry Scout on a modified M1A3 during Operation Desert Shield, one of my fellow scouts received a letter from his mother in Seattle. Along with the letter was another letter from one of the neighbors of my friends mother. It seems this neighbor was looking to support our troops by becoming a pen pal with a deployed soldier in need of some support from home. I wasn’t receiving much mail because at that time I really wasn’t in communication with my family. I was given the letter and so began my correspondence with a highly intelligent young woman. Her name was Catherine Test and we exchanged quite a few letters discussing many topics ranging from day to day activities to her encounter with a celebrity at a party in Seattle. (I will forever keep that one secret to protect the still famous actors privacy) After I was sent back to Germany I received a letter from Ms Kitty Quiz (as I like to call her) that had missed me in Iraq and took some time to get to me. In this letter she told me that I was so descriptive in my writing that I could make someone hear the falling of leaves. That got me to thinking “I could?” “Maybe I can” “Damn right I can” so I proceeded to prove it to myself and KQ that I she was correct. I wrote the poem in an hour pretty much as you see it here. The only revisions I ever made to it in 28 years I made today as I prepared it for this Blog and those revisions were very minor changes to sentence structure and a couple of words I decided needed to be changed. Katherine loved the poem. I lost touch with Katherine as life got in the way, but I will always remember her as someone who first believed in my writing.