Rusty McKinney, via his Facebook page Friends of the American Civil War, shared the quote posted below. The quote inspired the poem posted below. I read the poem at a reading last night in Newton, NJ. It was well received. Thanks, Rusty.
My dead and wounded were nearly as great in number as those still on duty. They literally covered the ground. The blood stood in puddles in some places on the rocks; the ground was soaked with the blood of as brave men as ever fell on the red field of battle.
- Colonel William C. Oates, 15th Alabama, at Little Round Top
a poem of the Civil War
It’s like a season passed in the blink
of an afternoon. This morning
I smiled at tall shoots of lavender
reachin’ above the grass and clover.
Bees hummed from bloom to bloom
like politicians knockin’ on doors,
musterin’ votes. Breeze carried scents
of earth and honey – sweetest spring day
that ever filled my lungs. Made me wanna
touch somethin’ soft, something special –
maybe the hand of a Tennesse beauty.
But after a day of tradin’ shit and smoke
with a regiment of Billies, this pretty spot
done shed all its pretty. Blood has a queer smell,
like a bog choked with sour fish,
but it don’t mud a patch of ground
like water does. Blood turns dirt
into syrup – walk in it too long
and you’ll get all gummed up.
And the dead are leakin’ blood all about.
From here it looks like a herd of fellas
decided to nap, but they ain’t wakin’ up
no time soon. You can see their last thought
carved on each of their faces. It’s never fear or anger.
Mostly it seems like sorrow to me, like they know
they just lost memory and hope all at once.
Don’t seem like spring no more.
What season is it? It’s a season for breathin’ –
at least while ya still can.