Poems For Peace At Into The Bardo

I have learned a about war through it’s study and through a six-week shamanic experience that I had. But that is for another time. The experience gave rise to working with veterans in a creative writing program for two years at the VA. Another result of the experience was that I learned to fly a small aircraft (not getting a license just learning). Veterans writing assists them in opening their wounds and allowing the pain out so that something can be done with it. I also wrote a good bit of war poetry. I was never a war wife. I was lucky enough to only know the fear of having my ex sent to Vietnam. He was assigned instead to go to Okinawa, a place where I lived with him off base. The experience that I mention above was initiated by many long conversations over the Internet with a Vietnam Veteran B-52 pilot. It began in the USAAF forums as we each were looking for our father’s WWII history. His father flew B-24s mine was an Ordnance Officer.

The idea of peace (in this country) is compromised by many things. It is not just the Hawks in The White House or the dictators of another land, or the poverty of so many around the world that are the causes of war. War is addictive for many soldiers (soldier is used generically). It does not help that the military is totally cut off and separate from civilians. That is not a situation that engenders peacefulness within the military. There are those for whom combat is a higher high than an orgasm. I do speak of a minority of people. But it only takes one to start a war. The following is my favorite poem of all the war poetry that I have written. It is written about that time in 67-8 that I lived in Okinawa. It is the poem to which I feel the greatest connection.

Rolling Thunder

I remember them,
large black fins
in 67 & 8.
We’d drive to Kadena,
park the truck
watch them circle
like sharks
behind the security fence.

All we saw were black
shark fins … taxiing for take off,
B-52s lined up for Vietnam.
The NVA called them
Whispering Death.

Three years…860,000 pounds
of carpet bombing.

Rolling Thunder
coming out of U-Tapao,
Anderson and Guam, Okinawa.
They came in threes … Arc Light!

Coming from the 9th, the
22nd, the 91st, 99th, the 306th, the 454th, and
the 461ST, they flew at 50,000 ft,
subsonic speeds, refueled in mid air,
carried 70,000 pounds of mixed ordnance.

Known with affection as BUFFS
Big Ugly Fat Fuckers
Operation Linebacker.

Ten, twelve hours in the sky
peeing in a sleeve,
you either froze or you were scorched while
flying towards hell.

Clear left, limbs seen hanging
clear right, friends seen falling from the sky.

Then, the Christmas Bombings, SAMs brought them down
U-Tapao lost two in mid-air
One in each cell…one on final…the entire crew lost.

2009 © Liz Rice-Sosne

Shared at Into The Bardo

8 thoughts on “Poems For Peace At Into The Bardo

  1. Such a powerful write, Liz, and reading it transports the reader to those hangars and airstrips where they were taking off. I was so interested in your piece above the poem too. I can only imagine the amazing stories you heard in that class.

  2. Liz, these images terrify and sadden me. I’m glad you posted this and the preface and honored by your participation. I hope today finds you feeling better.
    Many blessings,
    Jamie

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