Some war poetry I published years ago...someone told me explanations make for better understanding: they are at the end.
and silent is the land
I am standing
I see the fence in the distance, foreboding,
its barbed wire top mocking those seeking deliverance,
and everywhere I look, I see carnage--
the minds of the living
shattered as though consciousness was crystal--
the remains of a people--once strong--once proud.
I shout to the wind.
I am not silenced by my captors,
though their fetters bind my ankles
and their whips slash my flesh.
Once I heard voices shout,
building a wall of resistance in a sea of repression,
protecting, nourshing the few left
until the waves eroded their minds
and consciousness wasted thin
Now I stand in an empty land.
I hear the wind whistling
through the bones of a people once strong.
I am alone.
My body wastes thin
into the shadows.
and silent is the land.
About The 14 Year Old Albanian Woman With a Bullet In Her Cheek
she ran from the serbs
who killed her family
her brother crying in pain
she ran through the streets
washed away by the rain
she sheds her tears
for the fighting's not finished
and she knows she still might die
she's standing there
at the window
and watches the soldiers go by
a scarred young mind recalls
his eye a puddle of blood
she recounts him crying
there in the dark
and her tears become a flood
the last thing she remembers
is watching her mother
slump against the wall
she was splashed with the blood
from her mother's head
as she herself started to fall
of her family were killed
by the time the evening star shone
and there were no bells tolling
in the empty town--
for she was totally alone
she gathered her soul--
her patriot soul--
and remains in her home town
and she visits the place
where she buried her parents
in the cold albanian ground
she remembers her life
before the war
and her parents' laughing voices
she longs for the time
before their deaths
when laughter was one of her choices
she looks at her face
in the mirror
and sees where the bullet went
she looks around her--
the remains of her town--
at the damage the bombshells rent
and she sleeps on a couch
splattered with blood
from the bullet wound in her cheek
her voice is soft
and filled with tears
when of these memories she speaks
and she dreams of a life
a better life
where bullets no longer remain
she wants her children
to live in a world
free from war's bloody stain
and she told him her story
while tracing the scar--
her voice cracking with pain
All night long
I know it's just a dream
I wake up and see dew
on the windows,
feeling anger rise
as I reach to touch you,
to feel some part of you,
and realize I slept alone.
I scream NO
but an empty space whispers
and I long for one last moment,
thinking you wander,
instead of buried in memories.
And happy old men,
pass yet another bill extending the war.
I see the gunners in the hills
and wonder "who is left to kill?
For every day I see bloodshed
and thank the Lord I'm not yet dead.
And now, I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
And when I die, in a gunner's sight,
I pray then someone will make things right.
The Mortared Girl
You talked to the news:
"I hide in the unheated shelter
where my family died one by one.
I am only eleven,
yet I have no tears left to cry."
I wonder why the eyes of the free world
watched with shame while a country died,
and for two years
stood and proclaimed,
"we will not interfere"
"My family starved, and I saw my friends
mortared on the street.
I live at night
when the snipers sleep,
and feed on fear for food--
for fear alone keeps me strong.
I am only eleven,
yet I have the eyes of an old woman."
Yesterday, I saw your hand weakly raised in pain
as you lay amongst the rubble
of the mortared stores.
And a little later
the camera chanced upon your body
piled in the dirty morgue.
I Stand for Peace
Men surround men
who put flowers down gun barrels
but the sweet bullet kills.
The soldier walks a lonely line
while I burn a card
and say I will not lie for peace.
I will stand.
You know my name,
for I stand for peace.
I tell the judge:
You teach a people
to overcome oppresion and violence
with oppression and violence.
You push civil rights,
and nuclear peace.
People hear your beliefs
when someone's son can never say,
"I'm 21. Today, I'm a man."
When political motives are stripped away,
war is just man killing man.
And I will not lie for peace.
I will stand.
Publication credits where due..
And Silent Is The Land
Nomad's Choir, Winter 1996, Vol. 4 Issue 1
Joshua Meander, Editor
National Library of Poetry
1995 A Far Off Place
"Silent" was published under the name Brandi Schrader in "Nomad's Choir"...lol, the editor couldn't read my handwriting but fortunately 'Silent" was also published in the Library of Poetry under my correct adoptive surname: Schacher.
'Silent' was written in December 1993 while I was temporarily employed by the Adas Israel synagogue in WDC. Earlier that year, or perhaps the year before, the Confirmation (is it Confirmand?) class had written a Confirmation Cantata (essay) on the Jewish tradition of Pidyon Shevyuim (Redeeming Captives). I ran across an early copy of their essay on the desk I was inhabiting. Their group essay (in its early drafts; I was never able to find a final copy), and in particular a poem by Molly Blank, is what inspired 'And Silent is the Land.'
The piece is representative of the Holocaust. At the time I was at Adas Israel, the synagogue was promoting Holocaust study to mark the opening of the Holocaust Museum. Bits and pieces of personal family history were also displayed on the walls: artwork, family photos that survived, poems written by modern-day kids to those who died.
If you plan to be in the DC area and wish to go to the Holocaust Museum, please plan to spend an entire day there (the six hours the museum is open; 10-4)--you will need the time to absorb the deep emotions still wafting from the exhibits. I don't think many of the dead had someone sit Shiva for them, and the dead still cry.
I don't like many of my pieces, but "Silent' is one of the pieces that grabs my attention--it did so from its conception...
The following poem also shocks me every time I think about the story behind it:
'About the 14 Year Old Albanian Woman..." This unpublished piece was inspired by a 1999 newspaper article on the woman in the title who relayed to a reporter the events that took place in April 1999...the events are real: her baby brother was shot through the eye and lived for several hours. Most members of her family (19 members) was executed Romanov style in her parents' house. She was the only survivor of the execution--the bullet struck her in the cheekbone just below the eye, a fraction higher and the bullet would have entered her eye, killing her.
A few family members survived, but they were out of town when her family was executed, leaving her to wake up alone--except for her baby brother, who lay whimpering his last breaths. She moved in with her aunt and uncle and at the time of the article, she was back living in her home town (her aunt and uncle with her), sleeping on the couch splattered with her own blood.
At one point during her story, she got up and went to the window to watch the soldiers walk by..then recalled the memory of her baby brother being shot through the eye. Later, she recounted seeing her mother's brain splatter against the wall before she herself was shot in the face; that was her last memory of her mother.
So I really can't take credit for "About". "About" is V--'s (I know her name) personal story. She is 18 this year. And thinking of her, I think I'll write the reporter and ask if he's kept in touch with her.
'Prayer' and 'The Mortared Girl'
Peace & Freedom Bosnia Special
Volume 10, Number 1
Paul Rance, Editor
Someone decided a 'hands-off' policy during the time these two were written (Bosnia) would be the best approach with this War. 'The Mortared Girl' was written in February 1994 after a bomb exploded in a shopping mall during the noontime meal, killing scores of people, including kids; she is fictional. "Prayer" is just that: a prayer.
'Loss' & 'No Hope'
Number 3, Spring 1994
Paul Rance, Editor
I believe "I Stand For Peace" was also published by Paul Rance in Eastern Rainbow but I can't find an author's copy. "I Stand for Peace" is part of a larger group of poems I refer to as "Letters for Daddy". It's a mostly unpublished group of pieces representing the Vietnam War--and a little girl's desire to know her dead father as she grows up..."Stand" is the last piece and represents Katie's staunch anti-war attitude.
The first stanza refers back to the Vietnam War protests when people would put flowers down the gun barrels of the police and/or national guard troops sent to subdue the protesters. Burning one's draft card was a badge amongst the peace lovers.