More Poems

Former POW, Major General John Borling.
Major General John Borling

Taps on the Walls
by Major General John Borling

We build tall walls of different kinds
For prisoners of war, or crime, or mind
Who serve, or crouch, or cry behind.

And if your freedoms you despoil
You prisoners cannot escape the toil
To stand and fight with mental foil.

Forced solitude when doubts grow rife
Make prisoners who build walls struggling strife
Then tap the walls to regain life.

Then-Captain John Borling was prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton for over six and a half years. He “wrote” and memorized poems to keep his mind sharp and his spirits up. He shared his creations with fellow captives by their only means of communication, rapping on the cell walls with his knuckles.

Printed by permission of Major General Borling and the Pritzer Military Museum and Library.

I Am a Free Spirit
by Tristan Carson, US Army

I am a free spirit – an instrument of my life
I am the only one who can determine what my song is
If it is a song of beauty, pain or war
these are the chords I can play
I must play the song I want – with chords of strength and love,
to counter the chords of pain and anger I may bring into my life,
or allow to have influence.

The Past Cannot Change Our Song
by Tristan Carson, US Army

The past cannot change my song
Neither should the dreams of the future
Sweep my tune away

For my song is strongest
When I reside in today
No more hurrying and scurrying
Rushing down that road
Looking for someone
To fill in the missing years

My song is my strength
And in it I find a light
To guide me home
To the bright morning,

Only the first few lines of each of the following poems appear on this page.
Click on …full poem… to read more.

Passing the Lights
by Tristan Carson, US Army

Passing the lights
I ride in the night
The streets are quiet
And the air is fresh
Fog hangs in the glow
Sparkling and changing
As the wind blows
Calling me home to my fire.
. . .

… full poem …

by Jennifer Wiesner

They’re voices in my head-head-head-
Sometimes I feel I’m dead-dead-dead-
Am I watching a TV-TV-TV-
Or am I in a deep sleep-sleep-sleep?

I’m not doing well-well-well-
I feel like I’m in hell-hell-hell-
I’m not doing good-good-good-
Cause I’m misunderstood-stood-stood.
. . .

… full poem …

poetry by US veterans
US Army veteran Mark Cooley reads his poem at the Menlo Park, CA VA facility.

Heroes’ Voices
by Mark Cooley

Haven’t you heard? By closing your ears
We feel helpless, speechless, flightless
Too many years, much like a wing-clipped bird
Too frustrated to scream

Can you listen?
Help turn our nightmares into a positive dream
From fire filled foxholes to the cold felt casket
Only the freedom of speech remains
From yesterday’s gift basket
. . .

… full poem …

poetry by US veterans
Kathy Rehm, U.S. veteran and poet

At The Tombs of the Unknowns
by Kathleen Rehm

These words are carved in the marble stone
“Here Rests
In Honored Glory
An American Soldier
Known but to God”

Not far from Arlington’s Cemetery Gate
By your fellow soldiers you lie in state
From a century of wars, you came to rest in this place
Guarded by your fellow soldiers, in stately grace
By your sacrifices a later generation would yell
“Hell no we won’t go”
. . .

… full poem …