The Rose Warrior
In my old country family, my foster father’s brothers and sisters
were variously displaced, forced conscripts, imprisoned in labor camps
and fled as refugees during the Second World War in Eastern Europe. They
were force-marched away from their land in their tiny farm village, and
their small number of hectares never restored. As my father found them
stunned and wandering across Europe, one by one he brought them to
America. My childhood home overflowed with haunted refugees who struggled
so hard to come back to life. There is a story told in our family about
“the rose warrior,” who in the midst of battle rage, suddenly turns into
a rose-bowered soul. The scent of roses over the battlefield becomes
greater than the scent of blood. This causes him to remember his truest
self, and thus to sheath his sword and to be taken to kill no more. There
are so many struggling toward this shore in the modern world; we have
believed that many souls can make it.
I worked at the VA as an aide and I saw them come
back from hell.
Hell! Hell was still smoking inside them: Front
line men, artillery,
tank and tail, helicopter, hand to hand, med evac,
People wanted “war stories,” from them,
share a suck at what they thought of
as the heroic tit.
everyone to say they were OK and
to settling down
with a nice girl or boy somewhere
near trees and water.
soldiers’ eyes said,
Still at Inchon,
Still at the Ardennes
Still at the Tet
Still in Cambodia.
eye-witness reports ran every night on
the dream newsreels.
in their own beds, the men and women
dreamt Honor and Horror,
dressed as innocent children,
who played time and again with the
of shells and mines so deadly pretty. And the
sexual luster of war
continued to swell the hearts
of so many who
never saw war up close.
At the VA, the soldiers walked the halls
wearing their crowns of thorns made of missiles
memories on fire.
And anyone who had a heart left hanging by even
Isn’t there such a thing as patriotic anger?
Is it not
true that there is such a thing as patriotic
sadness and sorrow?
What about patriotic resistance? Can there be
And, oh by the way, when did patriotic reluctance
from a holy thing to a hated one?
And what does war shatter besides
And how can secret regret deserve so much public
How can the maiming of human life that all say is
given so much remembrance, as though it is
instead of so unbearably tragic?
How can the arms, the heads, the legs
of the dead,
be more valued than those who still stand
patriotic valor shining,
with eyes that say:
Still walking from
Still in Saigon
Still in Seoul
Still deployed into cold
under hundred pound packs
and struggling toward shore.
-- Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Praying for Rain in the Southwest
Liquidate your assets, Lord. Were suffering here
Gird up your loins, grab your pitcher, and pour
On field, on plain, on city and town
Let the prayed-for rains
come streaming down
Over highway, pathway, road and street
torrents to ocean meet
And become one with that endless sea
As I am
in you and you in me.
-- Judith Robbins
Morning begins with a sip
And sweet, pink-colored lips
Awake the cold, reluctant lake.
Wondering whether a leap
Or a dance
into the air
Could better fascinate a mate
A gull ponders on the
Looks down and contemplates
The lightly pulsating waves.
for a treat I watch and wait.
-- Fr. Conrado Beloso