USMC-trw (Terry Whitford), 1964-1968
Exploration’s
End


I lay by the lake
in divine consolation,
and watch the moonlight dance
without reservation.

My weathered tent,
solace for slumber.
stands wearily behind me
calling my number.

Slowly I stoke
the fire with care
as I sink into
the twilight fair.

Embers rise
to take their flight
wrapped in the embrace
of amber light.

The warmth of the fire
embraces my soul
as pleasures of silence
take their toll.

My eyes grow heavy,
laden with love
of majestic mountains
and azure above.

I awake to the crackle
of falling logs
and frogs reporting
in mired bogs.

I kick off my boots
and turn to crawl
Time to answer
my weathered friend’s call.

I drift to sleep
out of the cold
and return to dawn
in days of old.

When I employed
a musket and pack
to explore this continent
and send word back.

Once again,
across wastelands vast
and myriad waves
under sail and mast.

I awake to the dawn
and golden light
streaming through trees
and ending the night.

No more land to map
or rivers to coarse.
I retain residence here
with no remorse.

I severed my ties
to foreign crown
In hopes this place
will never be found.

For, tis’ not the want
of greedy tyrants
to preserve the beauty
of nature’s silence.
Copyright © 2005 Kevin V. Reese. All rights reserved by the author.
Forget Me Not

Settle in this evening fair,
for not contrite this humble
gift donned of sweet liberty
by purposed men baptized in
blood and cannon-fire.

Forget me not.
Honor prevailed at the
hands of heroes sacrificed
upon your hallowed eve
of independence.

Did dawn not find
our coats bled red?
Nay, to contrary,
our coats still bleed blue eternal
upon that crimson field
of sacrificed sons
and lamenting fathers.

Should not liberty
have begotten justice
upon the redcoat
borne of Patriot blood?

Desperate independence quartered
no crown in patriot provision then.
Yet, now propagate traitors among us?
The turncoat in contempt haunts me
well beyond my living days.

Shall I find scarlet
upon the back of my son?
The breast of my daughter?
the hearts of my children
centuries hence? 

Surely, I returned then,
glorified in union
...and independence.
Is it not written?

This union I gifted freely to you.
Sired by blood.
bequeathed by bravery.
Defended by honor.

Established by right.
Principled in equality.
Purposed in liberty.
For all men.

Do you know of me
my child, born free
by my blood spilled
these centuries passed?

Do you not remember me?
I was shunned by you,
cast away at your doorstep
by the voice of ignorance.

You have abandoned me;
my brothers put to slaughter,
readily forsaken by you
as you so freely sing in defiance.

You have forgotten me,
blinded by blasphemy
and foolish pride.
Open your door to me now.

Wait by your casement and
sing your sweet lullaby
of sorrow, of sacrifice, and
of patriot sons loved once again.

I have not forgotten you.
I carried the banner of ignorance
for you upon embattled fields
anointed in patriot blood.

Fool am I to have levied your
voice of ignorance for you?
Child, this was my gift to you.

Forget me not.
I am the son of liberty.
Fields of Antietam

Gentle, the goodnight bids its welcome
of humble spirit and gilded heart
of our hailed heroes fallen upon the field. 

This road that takes me home,
driven in principle,
shall not yield to the lamenting soul,
which beckons him rest not
in fields of Antietam. 

Honor him, who does fall
upon the crimson soil
lost in this sea of wickedness. 
Shall you not partake of
the sacrificial kiss with me? 

Break your bread
you honored few
who are about to die. 
I salute you. 

Follow me this fated morn! 
The hallowed day is upon us. 

Drink of my blood
that it may lay sweet
upon your courageous tongue. 
“This do in remembrance of me.” 

I am of the lamb,
sacrificed upon the cross,
for all free men. 
With Him do I ever stand,
forever falling upon this land torn. 

Lamenting spirit,
troubled youth,
fear not the cannon-fire
raining death upon this desperate field. 

Rise free brethren!
Thrust the sword of Gideon
upon the breast of despondence. 

Brandish honor with head held high
upon the Reaper’s field,
resting not to the opulent mass of decadence
stretched before you. 
Nay, the night forays its sleepy shadow
over your fragile soul. 

So the body falls. 
Does not your spirit rise
to walk the peaceful road home? 

Does not tranquility
abode upon the cobble there
comforting your weary walk
upon hero’s foot? 

Rise!
Defend!
Split the night with iron will
and battle-clad hoof. 

In him do we ever endeavor
to free all men in this sovereign union. 

Steady the thunder,
clap of the hoof,
and unkempt boot
marching into history
this very night,
and upon this very field
rich with the cry of free men
resolved in sovereignty
at the end of the bayonet. 

This is the way,
the life,
freedom’s light. 

Cast the hues of blues,
of grays,
and of crimson tides
upon this day’s canvas. 

Antietam, our bodies lie. 
Sacrificed upon your magnificent field. 
So that free men may live
the lives we gave away. 

Even so,
as heroes of the day,
we echo through eternity
upon this sovereign wind,
“Fields of Antietam,
we the dead salute you!”
For Ol’ Virginia



Billowing smoke suppresses the truth around me. 
I know where I am. 
I am afield in this brutal confine called Hell, 
alone with my ethereal thoughts. 

I must have expired there,
bathed in the blood of my brethren,
on that field strewn with blues and grays
awash in a crimson tide. 

As the smoke releases its stranglehold upon me
I find that I am not with the slaughtered. 

A man I once knew as brother,
summarily collapses into a lifeless heap
of grays, golds, and reds. 
His bleeding coat conceals my cries. 

I am overwhelmed by the fragile balance
of grief and elation as I realize my fortune. 

I have survived the harrowing advance
of the colorless souls that, at last observance,
charged with such ferocity
that I nearly quelled my fear
with surrender rather than
the report of my musket. 

As I lumbered again onto my weary feet,
I lifted my gaze to the battered field
so poignantly stretched out
before my grievous eyes. 

The sacrificial screams of free men,
etched into memory,
shall haunt the rest of my lamenting days. 
Perhaps death would have befriended me. 

Without provocation,
I remember with great clarity
the moments before my shameful loss
of consciousness.

’Twas without reserve they charged so gallantly. 
Not once, not twice, but thrice
for “Ol’ Virginia,” I think it was. 

Yes, I heard the cry as clearly as I heard
the report of their unruly cannons. 

I admired their valor beyond measure
as I witnessed their impassioned resolve. 
I’d almost wished I could share in their Glory
...almost. 

II.  Bitten by Despair

However fruitless their charge seen by some,
I find that it indeed changes the manner
in which we endeavor to engage them,
for we nearly lost this hallowed ground. 

Perhaps divine intervention
tendered our victory here
for surely we were all in awe
of their abundant prowess
and unyielding advances. 

With these thoughts
battling for their respective validity,
I continue my solemn gaze
upon this tainted place. 

This battle has found its resolution,
there before my woeful eyes. 
I stand amidst my fortuned brethren,
yet I stand alone. 

I have found myself at the edge of this open field
with its yielding orchard strewn
seemingly endlessly to the side. 

Dead, wounded, and despondent
litter this blushing field
by an immeasurable number.
’Tis a crimson sea of lifelessness. 

The unrelenting stench of death,
laced in black powder,
courses through the air like a plague,
while the heaving sky continues its struggle
for breath overhead. 

This familiar stench surrounds me,
completely enveloping all of my senses. 
It is as I thought,
as “Victory” resounds
down the edge of the field. 

A blue sea of kepis take flight
in this afternoon sky
as azure begins to pierce the horrid smoke
with it’s abundant rays of hope.
 
Copyright © 2005 Kevin V. Reese. All rights reserved by the author.
Thank you, Kevin
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