Poems in War and Love
You deployed six times, I count them as such
Never mind the lingo and the requirements to define –
You fought in one of the nastiest of them – Fallujah -
Against Al Mahdi and his friends,
Yet you came back with all of your men.
You grew up in a town that might have been mine,
Except that yours was near rivers and mine
Was in the desert; You fought in the desert too,
Learned to love there, to be fully alive, sober to the threats,
To be kind to the populace. Then you fought at the ends
Of the earth, making friends all the way, even as you had
To remember to be lethal. A dog, you said, in that other
Country had come upon you and your forward man:
You were trained to slit its throat, You – dog-lover, rescuer of dreams,
Faithful man to your wife, whom you left and came home to
Twice. Dogs, yes, dogs you are faithful to, and this one did not bark.
So you did not have to slice and silence him with a knife,
And on that night you made your way back with relief
For sparing - at least- one more life. Archangel,
Sniper, man from the skies, friend for life.
On the conquest of Raqqa
Mourn with your brother in war and Love, Alex,
And mourn for the Kurds who have declared
Like lions their autonomy. Mourn for the women
You miss, indescribable loss not to hold them
In your gaze and in your embrace.
Mourn the purpose they gave you, both ends
Combatants and warriors, women and culture,
Ancient, tested in fires from century to century.
Mourn, too, your brother and friend, who like
Odysseus and Gilgamesh, who like Aeneas
And Patrick Leigh Fermor had to voyage back to
Woman, society, and cultivation of mother earth;
Mourn them who had to sheathe the sword, put it beyond use
Back in the head and on the hearth - who always have it at the ready
In the heart, in the hand and in the mind
And in the memory of those you fought for, that sword
From beyond time, now and past and for the future.
Mourn them, mourn them all warrior, friend,
Poet, lover, son and brother.
Mourn, brother Andrew, mourn.
Mourn the man who blew up behind you
Spinning legs in the air were all you saw,
Yet you had to go forward and take the village
See the traps, the mines, burned out and blasted
Cinderblock of once-homes made sniper shot-watches.
Mourn now because you can, brother Andrew.
Mourn the families you embraced and those who
Adopted you: Mourn and rejoice:
So many are alive because of you.
So many have hope because of you.
I want to lay my head in the warmth of your lap
Then watch iridescent stars fall behind your hair
Trace your brow’s shape, the pomme of your cheek
Touch your lips, while tracing light in scintillant eyes.
I feel the emanating warmth of your womb
Hear your voice in the dark, taste its sweet depths;
Then feel your pulse beat through your sex
As you shape the sounds of your words - like angels falling,
One-third, from the sky.
Auburn-haired woman, sapphire-braided skies
Halo you, while stars hang pendant
From your tilted head even Renoir could not capture.
Kiss me with your eyes (and lips),
Sing to me with your honeyed voice.
I scent you in the breeze of fall as Spring --
Soft fire, feminine song, emerald eyes: You.
You evanesce sooner than the scent of
Your body. Oh Soñia, how I wish that you would
Place my ring on your finger –and you do.
But don’t you know what that means?
Or best, you do. That’s what leans me
To you, emerald eyes, Soñia
Such womanly hips, such warm thighs. I
Follow your time, your rhythm, your honeyed
Voice, knowing that once I surrender to you -- if
That is what you wish -- I am complete or finished.
Indicate, say, tell me all I need to know.
Time, age, those erase if you say them so.
David Vela is a professor of English at Diablo Valley College, in Pleasant Hill, California, where he is also an advisor to veterans and an instructor and mentor in the Puente Project.