Chosen to be passed over by this wind although I'm still inside, the hurricane breaking down as it comes ashore, I pray next time I'll find my way to pray again! I may not. Given fair weather I drift as clouds, my favorite image, scud the sky, taking on light's fanciful images and poems I write from extremity drift off like yesterday slipping away.
But where? Prayer flies off into the storm's eye there to direct the wind or dissipate as the divine writes us or does not write.
Even before D Day and the great emptying out of England's fields and hedgerows —one vast and camouflaged parking lot— onto the harrowed beaches of the French, even before those daily tidal waves of bombers bearing east about sunset to deliver our turn, even after the buzz-bombs, doodlebugs— names to tame them into toys they never were— came skittering across out skies in random hate, cigar ends glowing frightful in the dark, Mum and Dad decided that the cold and earthy damp of our backyard Anderson shelter posed more risk than the odd incendiary bomb. When the warning sounded from the factory roof they would bed us down beneath the tough oak table round which we ate our meals, wrote letters, diaries, drew and painted, did the homework we brought back from school—still sandbagged from the big one landing in the lower playground. It was the closest Dick and I came to a camping trip those confined cautionary years and whatever fears still lingered lay concealed beneath the tangled maze of bedclothes, pillows, table legs. "Is that the all-clear, Daddy?" we would ask of that second wailing siren, far later in the night, reassured and yet reluctant, somehow, to forsake the secret shelter of our cozy bivouac. Then back upstairs to bed, dread now, if not dissolved, deferred at least until some deeper, even darker night to come.
In the high summer of my thirteenth year on this lovely planet I was mailed to Boy Scout summer camp in a sprawling forest For a life term, though I guess it was really only fourteen days. I was muddled at woodcraft as I was at everything else then, And finished very nearly last in tracking, swimming, canoeing, Archery, and orienteering, this last an utter conundrum for me; I recall my patrolmates finally gently taking away my compass And asking me to just sit quietly until they would lead me back To our camp, my spectacles knocked awry by jeering branches. I remember when we got our orienteering assignment someone Would lead me to a little open knoll in the rippling sea of pines And oaks and maples and I would sit there happily in the broad Sun for hours, I guess, watching for birds and speculating about Lunch. I wonder now that the Flying Eagle Patrol was so gentle To me, its most useless member, and these were the years when Boys are cruel to each other, for fear of being least and weakest; But they were kind, and I remember their totally genuine delight When I earned my single merit badge, for making both a roaring Fire and a stew. I remember their faces, around that startling fire, How they laughed—not at me for having finally done something Well, but at the surprise of it; the gift of unexpectedness, perhaps. Or maybe they were smiling at my probably hair-raising stew; but They ate every scrap of it, and the one among us who was best in The woods was the Eagle who quietly washed the pots and plates. Perhaps, all these years later, I should remember my helplessness, And either chew my liver or try to smile ruefully, but it's the pots Clean as a whistle that I remember, and the whistling of the Eagle Coming to retrieve me from my knoll high above the seas of trees.
In your black coat I walk into June heat. You take a dark bird's shape and fly away. I see your ghost, but it does not see me.
The recently bereaved are hard to please. I didn't make your bed or your mistakes. In your black coat I walk into June heat.
A phantom bone that haunts its amputee, of all my specters, you are most awake. I see your ghost, but it does not see me.
I pilfer through these memories like a thief. But maybe all's not lost. Some's just misplaced. In your black coat I walk into June heat
And I keen once more for your mortal hands beneath What gravid fabrics other fingers braid. I see your ghost, but it does not see me.
So I sail, half-masted, through the ghastly sea Of these wasted, assailing lovers, loss and fate. In your black coat I walked into June heat. I did not leave your ghost. But it left me.
Study war no more
Mar 18, 2011
Michael Izbicki grew up in a nondenominational church in California. A National Merit Scholarship finalist, he chose to go to the U.S. Naval Academy out of a sense of duty to his country during a time of war. At the naval academy he began to doubt whether the career to which he had committed himself could be squared with the tenets of just war doctrine. He got in trouble when he responded no to this exam question: "If given the order, would you launch a missile carrying a nuclear warhead?" After a four-year legal battle, the navy discharged him as a conscientious objector. Izbicki may have to reimburse the service for part or all of his education (New York Times, February 22).
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).