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The Moving Wall

The Moving Wall

I lost a high school friend to the war in Vietnam and wrote this poem for him after seeing his name on The Moving Wall Memorial.

THE MOVING WALL

We visit The Wall  the one they

pull apart  cart around  and lay

to rest for seven days  in far

off sections of a country that

arms boys and hauls them off to

war.  The women who sit in the tent   

with furious July sun blazing on their

kindness  give us a print out with your

name  Meade, Thomas Allerton  uniformly

typed  below the bold faced  Etched In Stone   

that embodies the exhibit. My eyes cruise the page   

the way your ’63 Chevy sought out chicks  and my

knees begin to buckle  when I capture the words 

HOSTILE, DIED  ARTILLERY, ROCKET, MORTAR.   

A deluge of images from nightly news explode before

me  and I finally discharge your death  and that god

forsaken war  as a rocket fire of tears flash over my face   

while I whimper across the green  toward The Wall.

And there you are  Thomas A. Meade   

standing guard on line 62  panel 37 E. 

Sitting on a bench   I snatch up tissues

from a box that sidles beside me 

as the WELCOME HOME

VIETNAM VETERANS

banner  flaps

in a bitter breeze. 

(c) Carol Weis

Tommy Meade

His yearbook photo.

Tommy Meade Etching from Vietnam Memorial

I took the rubbing from the Vietnam Memorial in DC.

Music of Her Love

Image

Ma and Betty Boop at Wobbly.

Today is my mom’s birthday.
She would have been 95.
This is how I like to remember her…

and the jar…it’s to my ear.

MUSIC OF HER LOVE

Hanging up the phone   after
chatting with my mom  I want
to seize our conversation  and
place it in a jar   one of those
twelve-sided All Fruit beauties
I save   and I’ll set it on the
top shelf of my refrigerator
knowing   I will take it out
later in the day.   Opening the
lid   I’ll nestle the rim to my ear
the sweetness of my mother’s
voice swirling inside   her
lilting words   a cherished
lullaby   and I will carry it
to my room   where the
music of her love   like
postcards sent   to tuck
me in   on this cold  drab
January night   will softly
sing me to sleep.

© Carol Weis, all rights reserved

ONE TODAY

I thought this would be a fitting first post on my blog, the poem written and read by Richard Blanco at the inauguration of President Obama’s second term:

ONE TODAY

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper — bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives — to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind — our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me — in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always — home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country — all of us –
facing the stars
hope — a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it — together