Sunday, July 13, 2014

Poetry: by Vietnam Vet, Rick Turton

Rick Turton

This first one is something that I wrote a long time ago. I was watching my Father-in-law (who lived with us for fourteen years) interact with my sons one day and realized that I never knew him when he was young, before life took its toll.

I started writing this and then I realized, someday, this could be me... wait! It is me!


When I grow old, remember…
I once possessed dignity and manners; I knew how to use them
I once conversed intelligently & insightfully
I once led with direction, drive, intensity, and scope
I once shared opinions valued by others
I once desired and was desired in return
I once dined with important people
I once remembered much more than I do now

When I grow old, remember…
I once raised children; the toughest career of all
I once loved and was loved in return
I once cried…well, maybe more than once
I once laughed, easily and often

© Richard Turton 2014
All Rights Reserved

Eagle Crying ...

The Eagle Cried
by Rick Turton

The acrid smell of cordite
Still hovered in the air.
No breeze to wash away
The scent of Satan’s hair.

The Medivac’s are fading now,
Their cabins filled with dead.
So many grisly pictures
Are surging through my head

Another hill’s been taken
The earth all charred and black
We all know what’s coming;
Tomorrow…”Give it back!”

The Eagle cries from barren trees
His tears, he cannot hide.
Where once a proud, young soldier stood
My Warrior Brother, died.

The scorched ground that surrounds me;
Am I in Dante’s Hell?
This skirmish now is over.
We saw them as they fell.

My Warrior Brother, Donny,
Died that gruesome day.
He took the bullets meant for me
With his final words did say,

“Tell Mom and Sis I loved them!
Please! Don’t let me down!”
I promised I would tell them
A promise I’d soon drown.

The Eagle cried that tragic day,
Back in Sixty-Eight.
A promise made…un-kept,
To my Warrior mate.

One thing that I’m sure of,
A thing that gives no rest.
The hounds of Hell still battle
Deep within my chest.

A bottle’d been my address
For forty years or more.
I’d take ‘most any drug,
I couldn’t find the door.

Somewhere there’s a record,
Of drugs and booze and tears.
When I crawled out of the bottle
I’d been buried in for years.

Half a decade sober.
Not a real long time.
That’s how long I’m clean tho’,
My life’s becoming mine.

The winds of war are blowing by;
In history books they last.
I’m in the winter of my years,
My best days...they have passed.

The one thing that I’ve never done
One thing I cannot face:
To visit the Memorial,
The headstone for that place.

My daughter said, “You have to go,
To honor those who died!”
I said I know I should…
But that I’d go…I lied

Then one day the phone rang;
A call I knew I’d dread.
It was Donny’s sister,
“Please help me!” Karen pled.

“I’ve spent these years just searching
I even hired a sleuth.
I finally found out where you live…
I need to know the truth.”

“The Army’s always been real vague,
And their answers never matched.
I need to know what happened;
They always seemed detached”

“Our Mother has passed on now,
But I still need to know;
I’d really love to meet with you,
Please…just show me how!”

The hounds of Hell are roused again;
Their howling has re-started.
I force their shrieks out of my mind,
My path, it has been charted

Quiet now, you dogs of war!
It's time for a new quest!
It's time for me to wrestle you,
And lay your souls to rest!

Then I thought the one thing,
A thought I'd never say,
Should I meet her at The Wall,
And put my hounds at bay?

I finally said I’d meet with her,
With a voice that was not mine.
The Wall is where I’ll meet you.
I’ll see you there at nine.”

I saw flowers in her hand,
As she walked my way.
“Yellow roses were his favorite.”
Later she would say.

“Hello, my name is Karen.”
She said when we did meet
“Donny wrote me many things,
I knew that you’d be sweet!”

“I know this must be hard for you,
But I really need to know.
Please tell me how my brother died,
That day, so long ago.”

The moment had arrived.
I could hide this fact no more.
I said things I’d kept hidden,
Behind my mind’s locked door

She took my hand in hers,
And waited patiently.
My head bowed down as I thought
Of words I had to say.

I knew my words would stab her heart
But she would not look away.
She watched me as I told her
Of that ghastly day.

“Your Brother died in my arms
In that nameless place.
He took the bullets meant for me
And died as we embraced!”

Her head dropped down, when I was done
Her chin upon her chest.
A single tear rolled down her cheek,
“Now Donny’s laid to rest.”

I walked with her as she made her way
To the Wall of Stone.
She laid the flowers at the base
Her silent prayer was sown.

At last I’ve honored those who fell,
Whose names are etched in rows.
We touched the name of Donny,
Who died so long ago.

And we cried…

The Eagle’s cry is heard again;
It lives within the Wall!
Each time a name is touched
The Eagle gives his call.

© Richard Turton 2014
All Rights Reserved

Vietnam 1970-1971

[Post Script:  Jodie Stevens, a Christian Radio Personality in Sacramento CA read “The Eagle Cried” on the air in honor of Memorial Day on May 23, 2014. Her show is syndicated nationally and is available online at Understandably, Rick felt truly honored and humbled.]

“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

CJ, this is a poem everyone should hear or read. Rick is truly able to communicate with words and to tell his story with such meaning and heart.

My favorite line is,
"When I crawled out of the bottle
I’d been buried in for years."

A testimony to the rebirth of glorious! Thank you for sharing.........

Joan Comly, Author