Curt Bennett Page 2

War Poems on this Page
 

A Tale Of Two Villages  -  Oradour-Sur Glane (1944), My Lai Was Once a Small Village (1968) (about two massacres)

Nature's War (US Corporations and the poison, Agent Orange)

In Memoriam (thinking of comrades lost)

To The Wall (Remembrance, what did they die for, and what about those who survived but suffered?)

Healing Touch (War survivors, survivors' guilt)

The Seduction of War (Making war attractive to the young)
The Core of War (War motivated by greed and the desire for resources.)
 

Notes on poems are at the foot of this page 

See A Tale of Two Villages

Oradour sur Glane, near Limoges, central France, 1932

Oradour sur Glane, 1944

Oradour sur Glane, 2014

Oradour sur Glane, 2014 Remains from 1944. General de Gaulle decreed that after the massacre the village should remain as the Nazies had left it, as a memorial to what had happened.


These poems tell the stories of two massacres  -  by the Nazies in the Second World War in France in 1944, and by the Americans in the war in Vietnam in 1968.

 

A Tale of Two Villages


                 Oradour sur Glane (1944) 


It could have been any town, anytime, or anywhere,
Any simple, ancient town of a thousand years 
Quietly basking the grass banks of a timeless river.
Its old narrow streets paved with enduring cobblestones
As narrow tram tracks, meandered the main road 
Laughing school children playing with barking dogs,
Old men dozing on wooden benches beside the road,
In the town of Oradour sur Glane in France,
On that peaceful, early June summer morning,
The day the soldiers, came to town.

The Germans arrived around noon and gathered the people,
Over 400 women and children, to the old, Catholic Church.
Where they were locked inside, then a fire was started
Women screaming as crying children flee behind the alter 
Heavy, wooden oak pews ignite to send the flames higher.
Like a giant oven, the church erupts in black, boiling smoke,
Birthing a furious fire within stonewalls and high ceilings
The bronze bells[3] melted, crashing down with the roof,
Burning all alive; brutally buried beyond recognition,
Underneath the blackened rubble; in the thick piles of ash,
The day the soldiers, came to town.

Small groups of men were herded to barns and garages,
Where machine guns were set up, to mow them down!
Starting at the knees, they opened up, firing incessantly,
Turning men to thrashing, screaming, dying helpless heaps.
Then, the Nazi’s began systematically looted the town,
Stealing everything they found considered having value,
Afterwards, they deliberately set fire to the entire town, 
Hoping to burn away the bloody evidence of their slaughter.
The day the soldiers, came to town.

An entire village burned and perished that day,
Leaving roofless, granite skeletons of haphazard rubble,
Glassless windows staring forever, out into eternity,
Where wide, empty doors seem as anguished, mouths,
Silently screaming in eternal shock and horror!
There, on a summer day in the peaceful countryside,
642 men, women, and children were callously murdered,
This town, now a graphic monument against war...
A testament to man’s inhumanness to his fellow man,
To what happens when soldiers and civilians collide,
The day the soldiers...come to town.[4]


Curtis D Bennett

My Lai, Vietnam 1968

My Lai, Vietnam 1968

    My Lai Was Once A Small Village (1968)


The hamlet of My Lai was like most others,
A small band of villagers working the land,
Living in a gathering of home made shelters,
Sharing a common well, surrounded by rice fields,
Poor peasants, caught up in a war, not of their choosing. 


On March 16, 1968, the Americans “choppered in”
The day the soldiers, came to town.
G.I.’s slaughtered 504 Vietnamese civilians that day,
The old, the young; mostly women; children...all shot down!
Murdered by Americans, young men of “Charlie” company.
Using automatic weapons, bayonets, and grenades,
Who became caught up in a fearful, primeval killing frenzy,
And then casually slaughtered helpless, human beings,
In their wanton killing of innocent women and children.
Reduced to crazed men caught in war’s insanity,
Reverting back to ancestral Neanderthal DNA,
Then wantonly, recklessly murdered human beings,
Claiming to be “Following Orders” in the murderous rampage, 
Because they were scared? Because they were afraid?
That and they possessed both the power and means to kill!
That March 16, 1968, Vietnam’s own sad “Day of Infamy”.
The day the soldiers...came to town.

These same American kids, barely a year earlier, 
Had been attending their local high school,
Now, they had turned into murderers; led by Lt. Calley;
War criminals of the worst kind, but not surprising,
For they had all, been carefully taught...to kill.


What exactly is the real and only difference in massacres?
Between Oradour Sur Glane France and My Lai, Vietnam?
Roughly, about... 24 years...


Curtis D Bennett

 


 

 

Nature’s War


On schedule, the big, heavy planes slide in 
Just above the treetops at 150 feet,
Spraying down long, twisting fine wide, wet sheets
Of orangey, gossamer, drifting chemicals floating down.
There, soon, all the green, thick leaves die and fall away,
From the giant trees that also, will soon die!
The birds stop singing, for they too are dying, 
Even the air is still, for nothing grows anymore,
Where the deadly, killing American poison falls.
One exception is found in newborn, village babies,
Who grow grotesque, deformities, and misshapen tumors.
Once again, America’s Big Corporations,[5] in all their greed,
Try to challenge nature…once again, we all lose! 


Curtis D Bennett


In Memoriam


Far high above, cloud armies pause,
To paint the land, in shadowed gauze.
The clear blue air in silence sings
Where eagles dream on mighty wings. 

A ghostly bugle calls the role,
Its haunting notes caress the knoll
And echoes somber over fields of green
Where warriors sleep their endless dream.

White markers, march in rank and file
To hold the stillness, for a while.
As soft wind shivers leafy trees,
Then sweeps green meadow’s grassy seas.

My brothers, sleep beneath this grass
With youthful comrades from the past.
Forgotten...as the wars they fought...
And all their sacrifice…for naught!


Curtis D Bennett

 

 

 


To The Wall


The names of the men, who fought and died,
Will be remembered far longer, by far more,
Than those who fought and somehow survived. 
It is a truly remarkable memorial to their memory. 
Yet today there is still not one compelling answer, 
Nor explanation from the Government that sent them 
As to why these names are today, inscribed on this wall; 
Why they died and what they died for? 
Even today there is no real reason; no bona fide answer.

Sadder yet, deep down within the soul;
Within the gut of Americans of that generation 
Is the well-known hard, undeniable reality 
Their deaths did not really change, a single thing. 
It was so unnecessary; it was such a tragic waste, 
It is a grim American tragedy; a sober reminder to us all,
Of the deadly final cost of: “Country’s Pride.”

Prior to America starting its next irresponsible war, 
Leaders in the White House and members of Congress 
Perhaps should stroll down this path, 
To visit old friends on the wall; 
Perhaps to explain to them, somehow, in some way
Why they soon, will be having some new company. 
Although Veterans may survive war, they are still victims;
All Veterans will always be affected by the war experience; 
All, will never, ever...be the same.


Curtis D Bennett

 


Healing Touch 


The 10 years of Vietnam were costly,
58,000 American fighting men died,
Today, most Americans are unaware,
Of who those kids were, for they are now history,
Lost and forgotten, forever, in the late 60’s and 70’s.
Each, struck down in the prime of life 
In a war which was so unnecessary. 

A war, which settled nothing; proved nothing, 
Except Governments lie and deceive their people; 
That most, if not all Politicians...are spineless assholes![6]

But each of those 58,000 casualties,
Had a family; friends and buddies who knew them,
People who were with them when they died,
When they were medivaced out
To disappear into the distance of deep sky,
Never to be heard of again as they vanished,
Often leaving good friends behind,
Wondering, if they made it through,
If they somehow survived and lived,
Somehow, were still around and doing well.

For many of their surviving friends,
Who loaded them into the choppers,
These questions, thoughts, and unresolved questions, 
Were not addressed; answers, not even pursued.
This way, they could keep their friend alive,
Would not have to face his death; rather could avoid it,
For in their minds this would keep them alive,
Not have to face the trauma, sorrow, and cruel reality,
They were perhaps dead and gone forever. 

In the years following the war,
Survivors picked up their lives again,
Went back to their families and jobs,
Went back to school, back into society,
Assimilating once more, back into America.
Leaving Vietnam behind; leaving the war behind.
But keeping the unresolved questions of their friends,
Tucked away into a distant corner of our minds,
Where they were safe forever from reality,
Where they would remain as we wished them to be,
Where we would not have to face their deaths,
A place where we could keep them well and alive forever.
Today, this is considered part of PTSD,
(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,)
A condition brought about by combat,
A condition suffered by all men who go to war.
For what they do in war is beyond the pale,
Beyond what “civilized” minds can ever imagine,
Beyond any mind-trip one can ever prepare for!
An experience, never forgotten, always remembered,
It never ever truly leaves one...who has been to war.

So through the years, these veterans have carried
The guilt of not knowing, their denial of reality,
A refusal to go to the bad places of the mind,
Carrying around the guilt through their lives,
The guilt of not dying, of being a survivor,
The guilt of them dying, perhaps in your place,
Called “Survivor’s guilt,” common to all men,
Who manage to survive war. 

This unseen, unrecognized trauma of the mind,
Has been concealed, buried, tucked away,
To a place they never want to visit again,
Of an experience they never want to go through,
Of a memory so hard to accept, to realize,
Where it remains throughout their life,
Never completely gone; never completely forgotten.

There is a black wall in Washington,
The Vietnam Memorial Wall,; a national monument,
And on that black granite wall are inscribed
The names of those who were killed in Vietnam,
Some medivaced out still alive; some dead and others dying.
But it was the last and only memory to those left behind,
Those still in the field to remember of them,
Looking up at the hazy, yellow skies of Vietnam,
Gradually becoming smaller and smaller,
Watching them disappear forever,
Away into the deep, Asian sky forever. 


When you visit the wall, you will see Vietnam Vets,
Reaching slowly out to the wall with their hands.
To gently touch the name of their friend...
This is their way of saying good-bye, their final farewell,
Which has been missing for the past half century.
Today, they have finally come to this black wall
For resolution, for closure, and for absolution.
For their feelings of guilt for surviving;
For their feelings of loss of their friends;
For their reluctant recalling of a bad, brutal war... 
In their remembrance of their long ago, lost youth.

For all these years, they have carried their guilt,
They have borne their silent sadness,
They have carried these memories with them,
Yet, have stoically endured and maintained.
And now at last, it is time to resolve these issues,
To address them directly; honestly, and then let them go.
A time to finally forgive oneself, and forgive your friend,
For dying on you that dreadful day…so long ago. 

As the old veteran reaches out his finger,
To trace the etched name on the wall of his friend,
There is transference of energy, a connection.
A moment of silent communication with old friends,
Whose engraved names are the only memories left.

A time to release all of those repressed emotions,
The hiding of facts; the denial of their death,
All of those terrible secrets hidden for so long.
The negativity of energy dormant for so long,
Can at last be transferred for the last time 
From the survivors mind, to the name carved in stone, 
Back to their friend one last time as they say farewell,
One last time to be with them in thought and prayer,
To be with them in spirit and one last time, to share.

As you watch, you can see the veteran’s hand
Will remain just one moment longer on the name,
Then he will bow his head and close his eyes,
For he is reliving those last memories of war,
He is replaying that final goodbye from so long ago,
Remembering one last time his friend who died,
One last time for him to say farewell forever,
As most veterans, make only one trip…to the wall. 

The wall is their place of remembrance, of sorrow,
Of a final personal farewell ceremony
To honor the ultimate sacrifice made,
By those who died for their country.

For those who never had the chance,
To live a real life, they were all cut down,
Without any chance at all to live a life.

Alongside the bottom are bouquets of flowers,
Placed there by those who came for closure,
Flowers for all the names on the wall;
Flowers for all the soldiers, long time passing. 
For those who gave their all for their country,
For those who will always remain
…forever young.


Curtis D Bennett

 


 

 

The Seduction of War 


Although wars are started by old men in power,
Young men, without options, fight them.
The very notion of going out and dying horribly,
Ripped apart by exploding steel tearing your body,
Into bloody chunks of meat and broken bones,
Is repugnant, almost nauseating to contemplate,
So these young men must believe, must be convinced,
The “reward” for fighting is worth the risk...right!

Rather than dwelling on reality, war now becomes a fantasy,
Painted in glowing terms such as “Victory, “Winning”,
“Noble Causes, Defending Democracy, Glory, Honor,
“Heroic, Bravery, Valor, and “Fighting for Freedom”,
Words, which carry a certain, valiant “ring” to them,
Connoting the ultimate measure of a “real man!”
Setting a fanciful, mythical standard for youth to strive for,
A daunting challenge to every young man’s, “manhood”.
And Hollywood becomes War’s dominant protagonist.
Perpetuating war as a fantasy delusion of wild imagination.
These wars of fantasy, hearken back to ancient times,
Where armored knights on white horses fought the heathen,
Bare-chested men wearing furry shorts leap at each other,
Mano-a-mano, they fly through the air slashing swords, 
Swinging manacled balls and chains at each other,
Firing lasers as they sprint the burning rubble
Screaming platitudes, cliché insults and abuse 
While thick black smoke and wild fire rages around them. 


As for their honeys on the sidelines, what can you say?
No, they ain’t the girl next door, or the high school class,
These chicks are gorgeous, perfect skin and sexy bodies,
Sensuous curves, long legs, and unconditional love!
Are they worth dying for or what! Hell yeah!
Show me where to sign, and when do I start,
How do I join the few, the proud...
So I can one day become a “Marine!”
So one day for a short time, I would at last be, 
“All that I can be!”


Curtis D Bennett


The Core of War


War is the ultimate act of merciless “bullying”.
Of a stronger country going to war with a weaker one,
Of one country going after another country’s “stuff”.
In the ancient world, “Kingdom’s” and “Empires”,
Controlled foreign countries with Military force;
Waging wars of imperialism with conquest by invasion.
Establishing “colonies”, to support their “Empires”.

An Empire, which would ultimately fail and fall apart,
When the colonies revolted against their invaders
To take back control of their own lands once again. 
War is based on greed and need of natural resources,
Prevalently by Island Countries like Britain and Japan,
Limited by geography, expanding populations, and greed,
Who desired outside resources of 3rd World Countries
To maintain their way of life; their standard of living.

Britain established a commonwealth of colonies,
Africa, The Mid-East, India, Australia, and Malaysia,
Japan invaded China and Southeast Asia and Korea,
France brutalized Vietnam and the West Indies.
While America under the guise of “Manifest Destiny”,
Practiced brutal genocide, against Native Americans,
Indigenous tribes who were inconveniently in our way!
It is a forgone conclusion our world’s future will include
Several major wars over oil, as this vital substance 
Reaches its peak production and eventual decline. 
As nations fight to protect their standard of living.
Iraq will be the first of many, as the world’s future 
Will result in constant, global wars over oil, 
As this vital substance is a limited resource.
And nations will fight to protect standards of living.
So we can maintain our standard of life...no matter the cost!


Curtis D Bennett

Notes

[4] An entire village died that day, Callously wiped out by the German Nazi war machine, whose soldiers became caught up in the obscenity of war! A week or so later, these Germans themselves, in return, would be mercilessly slaughtered; this time by the Allied armies, who could fight back...and did.

[5] Dow Chemical, would Dow cover up for years the deadly effects of Agent Orange on humans to insure continuing sales of chemicals to the government, by insisting it wasn’t dangerous to the troops and our Government awarded Dow Chemical millions of dollars for this “poison” (in addition to the millions of gallons of napalm)[6] The only priority of all Politicians is to get reelected, at any cost; price, by any group or person who can pony up the cash for advertising.

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The original War Poetry Website, researched and edited by David Roberts for nearly 20 years, 1999-2018 was number one in search results for "war poetry" for over 15 years. Re-written and re-designed 2019, it was launched 16 May 2019 at warpoetry.uk and replaces the original which used to be found at www.warpoetry.co.uk . Copyright 2019 David Roberts.