We’ve been looking for the enemy for several days now, we’ve finally found them. We’re surrounded. That simplifies our problem of getting to these people and killing them.
Attributed to Colonel Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller during the Chosin Reservoir campaign in Korea, November 1950.
Sonnet for 1950
All the kids came rumbling down the wood tenement
Shaky stairs, sneakers slapping against the worn
Tin tread edges, downhall came Pepo, Chino, Cojo,
Curly bursting from the door like shells exploding
Singing “I’m a Rican Doodle Dandy” and “What shall
We be today, Doctors or Junkies, Soldiers or Winos?”
Pepo put a milk crate on a Spanish Harlem johnny pump
And drops opened like paratroopers carrying war news.
Then Urban Renewal attacked the pump, cleared the slums
Blamed Puerto Rico and dispersed the Spies, blasting
Them into the Army or Anywhere Avenue in the Bronx.
And nobody, but nobody, came back from that summer.
Just as Korea was death in service to the warring Nation
The Bronx was death in service to the negligent Nation
by John Buxton
I saw men’s homes burst into sudden flower
. . Of crimson petals round each golden shell.
. . I listened to the whining bombs that fell
And felt the hard earth tremble at their power.
I saw bewildered eyes that hour by hour
. . Had peered through the rifle sights. I heard men tell
. . How many rounds they fired. I learned the smell
Of cattle burning in the byres is sour.
So much war taught me. And, when I return,
. . Because I did not cower nor shirk the fight,
. . But took a little part in this mad play,
Because I too have helped to kill, wreak, burn —
“You did your duty, helped defend the right,
. . You too were brave,” some poor, blind fool will say.
A Sonnet Obsession
I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations. I am pleased to offer Fourteenlines as an ad and cookie free poetry resource, to allow the poetry to be presented on its own without distractions. Fourteenlines is a testament to the power of the written word, for anyone wanting a little more poetry in their life.
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One thought on “And Nobody, But Nobody”
Buxton seems to be an example of a WWII poet capable of writing the kind of WWI “from the front lines” poems I wondered about in a recent post.