Grandad – TB

19 Mar

His memory’s at war
Remembering the memories of war.
The synergy of their collective mind
Gives a symmetry of what happened.
There is no my version or his version.
This is the version, conveniently forgetting the individual.
“Please remember, the songs we sang,
The pin-ups of the girls of the 40s.
The friends and the banter.” We had.
His flashbacks are irregular like a flickering light bulb.
He tries to remember the good days, but there were none.
It was either him or me, staring down the barrel of a gun.
The snake in the trenches was a distraction.
It bit his arm, so he ripped off its head.
Memories are fading but feelings aren’t.
Grandad, Are you alright?
I’m half left, son.
And these feelings of pain continued to eat away.

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7 Responses to “Grandad – TB”

  1. Kenia Cris March 19, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    This poem is probably my favorite of your now, for many different reasons, I’m trying to write a few here. This brings to my mind all war stories I’ve read and movies I’ve watched throughout my life. The opening line is SO beautiful. I guess thinking about war (or any other life-changing event we’ve been through) is often equivalent to living that event all over again.

    “The synergy of their collective mind
    Gives a symmetry of what happened.”

    Oh, yes. And the beauty in this, is that we don’t even need to have been there to believe it. This synergy is so powerful that an entire universe is born from the memories of the people who have been there.

    “There is no my version or his version.
    This is the version, conveniently forgetting the individual.

    Again so beautifully said. In war there is no ‘myself’. If anyone loses a leg it feels like your own leg is severed, if a life is lost, there is also some life in you which will never be recovered.

    “Please remember, the songs we sang,
    The pin-ups of the girls of the 40s.
    The friends and the banter.”

    I really like it that grandpa’s quote starts with ‘please remember’. I think about how important it is for me, as a person to be remember. I’m so afraid of oblivion, so worried about being something for somebody. That he asks of you to remember the songs, the pin-ups and the friends is so nice of him! It made me think of a poem I start with the same line ‘please remember’ and end up with saying ‘not all memories are bitter’. This feels exactly the same here, not all war memories are bitter. You’re making your own war memories right now in Ukraine, you know that a lot better than I do. And that’s one of the reasons why I love your photos and now the videos you’re making. Think of that one with the maidan dancing in the underground. That’s so relevant for a view of how human and how real are the people involved in this revolution. ❤

    “His flashbacks are irregular like a flickering light bulb.” I think I can say this is my favorite line. Brilliant metaphor. ❤

    “He tries to remember the good days, but there were none.
    It was either me or him, staring down the barrel of a gun.

    Yes, I think it must be ok for men like your grandad, who have been through so much, not to remember good days and I understand the ‘there were none’. There is a daily sacrifice expected from a soldier, if an infantry advances, another loses a man (or 10) what makes a day never a good day in war if you’re always counting the number of dead people. And how horrible it must be that you’re lead to forget everyone in the trenches is a human being and you’re supposed to be happy and comforted by the death of those you call ‘enemies’.

    The snake in the trenches was a distraction.
    It bit his arm, so he ripped off its head.

    This is a mystery to me. I keep reading it for a better understanding of myself as I read it. I doubt it’s a reference to a real snake. I’m inclined to believe the snake is a metaphor for something like death, or madness. It would be ok if it were about a real snake too. 🙂

    I’m half left, son.” Awn, this speaks volumes to me. Can I have a second favorite line which will be granted the same amount of love and care given to the first one? This is it.

    Well, I just wanted you to know I read you and I really like what you do here.

    Take care my dear.

    Kiss. ❤

    • crayfish March 19, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

      Kenia, what a terrific analysis. I can only thank you. It has helped me to understand my own words too!

  2. Brendan March 24, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    Fine reminder that the real war wounds are the ones that never heal, they endure through generations. And that generation’s silence little helped the work of going on. Alright? Only half is left, and it isn’t. Nicely done.

  3. Susan March 24, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    I found the poem powerful as well. For me it is the way we try to make sense of the deepest sharing we’re given which is in snippets when we were’t part of the collective mind.

  4. Rebecca Fedler March 24, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    “It was either him or me, staring down the barrel of a gun.”

    “I’m half left, son.”

    Powerful writing. Makes one feel.

  5. margaret March 25, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    I think war is something that is ingrained, burned behind one’s eyelids and perhaps after returning many don’t speak of it… my Uncles did not. Yet, it haunts them forever, the camaraderie, the fear, the growing up that was done… So many were so young and still so impressionable. “I’m half left, son” is really a line to chew on – without knowing him it could go several ways. Very nicely done.

  6. hypercryptical March 26, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    Powerful write on the horrors of war and how it scars forever. Your words sent a shiver down my spine and “I’m half left, son.” touched me too as in its meaning…
    Anna :o]

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