We had a small gathering at the Iraq War Dead Memorial Field of Flags in Blue Hill on Saturday, Nov. 9.
The purpose was to gather in reflection on the costs of war and our visions of peace and to put the field to bed for the winter season.
Those present agreed that we should send out the poems to a wider circle, and they follow below (in random order). Not everything was available digitally; we may send out additional pieces when available.
In addition to poems, there were thoughts on the ever-expanding and corrosive spectre of militarism… and the value of community in supporting each other and sustaining our work for peace. It was a rewarding time.
If you are there
Please if you will
Give me some air
With a breath or two
I know that
And please if you will
That covers me now
with fragments of strife
But soft, sweet earth
the stuff of creation — of life
How about some fire?
I think you’re good at that
if you are there
A cleansing blaze
of light and warmth
to make us one shiny piece
We’ll toss our demons
on the pyre–
Maybe I mean prayer
Most of all, for Christ’s sake
I’d like some water
to bathe the feet
of my dear soldier brother
— Canon fodder
as well the feet
of those called enemy — The Other
And if you do care
to wash away fear
(thinking of my mother)
and to replenish
with clear water
With this prayer.
by Peter Robbins (for Casey Sheehan)
A DECLARATION OF FAITH
Where prayers are effective,
springs gush forth and sequined fishes
swim over sand. Where crying works,
fishes swim over the sand to paupers, handing out hooks,
where crying works and prayers are heard.
Where Americans care
and drive to their fellowships,
trees shoot up out of slash to protect them
shading them gently. Gently shaded
from cancerous sunlight, new possums are born
from tire treads, where Americans care.
When we meet together
to sing holding hands in a circle
fish-full streetpeople leap from the shadows to join us
and sweet baby possums play at our feet.
by Jean Esteve, Waldport, Oregon
A CROSS-CONTINENTAL ECHO OF FAITH
Are you saying that all the springs bubbling up, up and down Maine,
prove that prayers work, even absent sequined fish swimming on sand?
That if we just cry enough they would swim right over our shores
to the poor, delivering fish hooks? Then shall we pray? And cry?
You declare that where Americans care, and wheel to fellowships to say so,
(Blue Hill Peace & Justice, for example) these shade trees will spring up
to protect against cancer and the tire tracks we leave will serve
for animal babies to be born in. Oh, thank you for your dream!
That when we come together to join hands and candles in circle, singing,
our homeless and hungry, warm and filled with fish, will dare appear
and reach back, fuzzy and downy newborns playing at our feet.
Let us pray, and cry, to believe this.
by Pat Ranzoni, Bucksport, Maine
In appreciation for Jean Esteve’s “A Declaration of Faith”
from her collection, The Winter Sun (Turnstone Books of Oregon, 2013).
If we were ancient shamans
now would be the moment
to give you shelter
from the coming storm
But we are merely
survivors of suburbs and cities
not forest nor mountain
offering you our silences
to guide you going out on your own
Yet we have known for years now
that the silences of our fathers will not do
And we have known that words alone
cannot bleed you free
of your raging doubts
So listen up
to what we have found
between silences and words:
Open up your fists
Watch women move
~ by Doug Rawlings
NO ONE SAID GOODBYE
While I was kissing you,
far away, a bomb came through the roof
where a family was eating soup,
splashed blood against the walls,
along with bowls and spoons and bones
and splintered chairs,
and I was holding you beneath me,
while men and women ran down streets
away from fire, flying bricks and glass
and you were moaning,
reaching for my hair
and couldn’t hear the screams rising
through smoke and ash
while sirens shrieked,
and I was loving you,
our clothes thrown in wild abandon
while cries of madness came
from where a door once stood
and when we writhed in passion’s wake,
no one moved on the kitchen floor,
no one said goodbye.
A man of sorrows
who walked the way
to show us the faces
of those who touched
his life deeply and why.
A man of compassion,
priest, prophet, photojournalist,
teacher, lover, friend needing us to be
vulnerable– to know the humanity
behind the faces in his photographs.
His life mattered to them
and to us as he walked the walk
and then when he could no
longer walk, he showed us a way
to die through his hunger– a way
that leads into the waiting arms
of the community of saints.
by Fran Truitt
December 28, 2008