Friday, June 6, 2014

New Poem for the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

June 6, 1944 in Willoughby-on-the-Lake

Cora and Connie,
Their four boys overseas, fighting in the terrible war,
First got the news on the radio around noon that Tuesday.

They heard from the boys about once a month, in letters
Passed under a censor’s eyes, often weeks old.
Sometimes Cora wondered as she read the letters
If her boys were still alive or wounded in some hospital
Or prisoners of war. She couldn't stop the terrible scenarios
Unraveling in her mind.

Connie tried to keep up her spirits, joked and laughed a lot,
And cried himself in secret and drank himself unconscious
Some nights at the bar down the corner.

Bob was on a small ship somewhere in the South Pacific;
Bill also somewhere in the Philippines.
But Fran and Jack, the two most vulnerable spirits,
They were somewhere in Europe—
They might be part of this invasion.

Candles remained lit that day, four of them,
(As they did every day of almost four years);
Two of those candles flickered, went out briefly,
Before Cora could relight them.

It was weeks before Connie and Cora learned the truth--
Their boys were alive—and in late ’45 or ’46,
They came home to Willoughby.

Bob had shrapnel in his back, but was otherwise OK;
Bill’s happy spirit seemed intact—

But Fran and Jack were filled with anger and sorrow;
Souls twisted and damaged, they got into fights back home,
And sometimes drank until they blacked out.

They were haunted the next twenty years,
Until their early deaths, by the psychic wounds,
The spiritual wreckage of June 6, 1944 and
The brutal organized violence of the years before and the year after.

Connie and Cora’s boys came home—
But two of them wounded for life.

[Bob Coughlin / June 6, 2014]

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