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Posts Tagged ‘war’

The Way We Live

Woven into a living fabric
an item of clothing that was a gift
that became meaningful and was
unintentionally ruined,
like ourselves,
given this gift ruined by us
on every scale,

bleeding the globe
bleeding our personal souls
and their need in the actual
living of life,

do not accept the formula passed
down as necessary,
whatever it is or was for you,
cycles of poor trailer-trash shit
uneducated and pregnant
neglected and unfair
given an inheritance of the burdens
heavy, sick as sin,
inescapable, cry-able,

spiders that spin webs to trap
themselves and eat their own hearts
and burrow into their own flesh and
poison the tissue that connects our
hearts to each other, our minds
to a future and our spirits to the earth,
a poisoned vein that sprouts, stunted,
toxic roots, spills the overflow into
and back out of us
so we all hurt the ones we love
hurt ourselves and this place we live in
so warmness feels uncomfortable and
misery normal,

label it whatever you want,
create the form it manifests for you,
call it a disorder or depression
make it a substance abuse problem
treat the symptoms of misery
and stay in it forever because
it’s become normal,

or claim it unacceptable,
pick up the shit you’ve
been given, smear it on
your face as war paint
smile and say, “fuck it”,
I’m going to play the
hand I’ve been dealt.

Kyle McHale          2016

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Where My Father Stepped

I have known the path trodden
through forest floor dirt
where my father has stepped,
the woods in the east whose
leaves hold that warm green
golden light of summer
whose forest rivers
clear and bronze
cast down through smooth stones
cut through steep hills
and hold his best footprints,
where my father stepped and left
parts of his heart on young hearts.

I have known the tragedy
of his bravery after war,
muddy jungle rotting steps
he took far from home
to watch friends step
their last steps
to watch friends gasp
their last breaths.

I have known his last steps,
those shuffling struggling sickness steps
and the march of Marine brethren
who carried him his final steps,
those were his feet
and his feet those
marching linked by spirit
breaths the fate
some soldiers chose.

He has known my first steps in a
humbling father’s joy to see an
early life after taking lives
thanking God my guns were toys.

I know now he steps where I step,
just ahead or just behind
our earthly wrongs matter not
even though he has left
I have known where
my father stepped.

Kyle McHale 2015

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Fishing on the Bushkill

When all that meant everything
Was a fire burning deep at night,
With friends to share life’s comic air,
The moon above to steal sight.

That was right, that was right, a time
And place suspended still somewhere.
A vault, untouched, unnamed, floating
Above those who wish they could stare.

Protected there my father lives
At that scout camp Resica Falls.
In his teens and full of living,
Hearing that Pennsylvania call.

One summer out there out posting
Past the main camp to staff Fawn Run,
My young father was on the edge,
A place where deep thoughts had begun.

He had time in those woods alone,
And ran his post when campers showed,
He’d often talk of Bushkill Creek,
Of its bronze color and how it flowed.

He’d make a fire, grab his rod,
At evening time he’d fish the creek,
Time spent in that flowing sweetness,
Relying on brown trout to eat.

Like a bear that is so content
To fish and eat and sleep so well,
Under stars from heavens glow,
The years to come no one could tell.

What thoughts my father had before,
Standing there on Bushkill’s shore,
Before he lost love and fought a war,
When life was moments, nothing more?

Did he know what the future held,
Or simply watched the river flow?
Was Vietnam even a thought?
Into that jungle he would go.

Did he know he’d be scoutmaster?
His sons to be and that boy the same,
All destined to be Eagle Scouts,
I knew the man that boy became.

Navigating rivers and life,
In that protected vault of then,
Trout, Brotherhood, Spirit, being
Among the links of boys to men.

Deep in the woods where wild calls,
Links that are not seen, are not heard,
Father’s gone but the Bushkill flows,
He has become that secret word.

Some of his ashes flow there now,
To keep the Bushkill’s spirit safe,
To guard by way of bird and fish,
To strengthen love and heighten faith.

What thoughts my father had before,
Standing there on Bushkill’s shore,
Before he lost love and fought a war,
When life was moments, nothing more?

Kyle McHale      2011

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What is Left?

After death
what is left?
When heart break wins
what remains?
Melting skin and
spirit sweats,
what is there and
what has left?
Broken dreams or
family gone,
so it seems some
more sad songs,
life remains, life remains
but what is left?
One more time or
every time
a mirror shows a
sad soul blind
to all the wonders
that are left,
that are left,
after rage, war, and death.

The world is
still there somehow,
love is left,
love is left,
If only it filled
every breath.

 

Kyle McHale         2014

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Twenty-One Shots

On a blue October day twenty-one shots
echoed through my heart,
jolted me back into the current moment,
where my thoughts had wandered
back to Pop-Pop’s firing salute years before,
this time empty shells hit the ground
and heavy blasts hit the air for my father.

Warriors get what they deserve at Arlington,
where their heavy hearts can rest.
Left here with our troubled hearts.
Rest well and forever,
whatever losses life gave you
have been given back.

Have you ever seen Marines fold a flag?
I’ll only see it once,
Marines in perfect symmetry,
folding the flag over my father,
ceremonial, sad, perfect,
brothers honoring each other
separated only by time.

I’ve had family in every American war.
Dad said he went to war so
Kevin and I did not have to.

God, I hope I deserve not
to see combat. I hope all
their blood has been enough.
God, I hope I live well enough
knowing there is a burden
they carried that I will
never be able to repay.

 

Kyle McHale                         2014

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Dying in a Chair

I don’t want to die in a chair,
I’d rather be afoot somewhere,
To be out there when I’ve no air,
The men before me died in chairs.

For Pop-Pop faded in a chair,
All that he saw way over there,
The Pacific blood he went through,
Then understood what men must do.

For Gramps faded in a chair,
All that he saw way over there,
The prison camps that he went through,
Then understood what men must do.

For Dad faded in a chair,
All that he saw way over there,
That jungle hell that he went through,
Then understood what men must do.

I don’t want to die in a chair,
I’d rather be afoot somewhere,
To be out there when I’ve no air,
The men before me died in chairs.

Kyle McHale      2010

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Toy Soldiers

A child with his soldier toys
Shoots and bangs his war time noise,
Knowing not the real cost
Of fallen brethren and true loss.

No one can fault the little ones
For thinking play time soldier fun,
For maybe raised on bravery,
A father dressed for full duty,

And back he comes from war alone
Blessed to see his child at home.
“Go on son with your soldiers play,
I’ll let you know the truth some day.”

Kyle McHale      2012

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