I was honored to join a reading by the contributors to The Disasters of War, new poetry anthology honoring veterans and those touched by veterans from Moonstone Press. I find the poems haunting, uplifting, and stoked with universal themes that always resonate.
Here is a description of the anthology:
Regardless of one’s feelings about the various wars or one’s politics, I think we can all agree that our veterans have been treated poorly. Some veterans suffer combat-related injuries; mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, traumatic brain injury as well as other medical issues including extreme fatigue, neurological issues, insomnia, migraines, joint pain, persistent coughing, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems. These issues can lead to homelessness as well as addictions.
The real disaster of war is what it does to human beings.
Whether you are a veteran, are related to a veteran, or a person who has had contact with veterans, poetry can allow us to express our deepest feelings. Join us as some of the 55 contributors to this anthology read their poetry.
The anthology includes my poem, “Shaky Charlie Talks About His Youth,” which recalls my great uncle who suffered shell shock from his service in WWI.
Although the anthology is already out of stock, the eminent publisher Larry Robin will likely print more copies.
Professionally narrated by Andrew Gaunce, the book can be found here: https://www.audible.com/author/Terry-Tierney/B081QQ36XK.
Thank you to Unsolicited Press for making it happen!
So nice to to browse the shelves at Great Good Place for Books in Oakland again, and find The Poet’s Garage. What a dream come true!
Visit Great Good Place for Books: https://www.ggpbooks.com/
Check out the poetry page on my website to learn more about the book: https://terrytierney.com/poetry/
This poem is set at a July 4th picnic during my childhood. My father and uncles were veterans and I wonder what they felt and what memories the holiday revived.
When It Was Dark Enough
My father seldom talked about the war,
as if nothing had happened, but he talked
in his sleep. My mother never understood
what he said. Some attacks were malaria
and she fetched his quinine tablets.
He sat up sweating, clutching her arm,
nightmare unspoken. Water in her hands
cooled his sudden temper even in daylight.
When he first came home, his darkness
scared his mother. He wanted to start
a new religion, all false.
He brought back few souvenirs. Wooden shoes
for his sisters and an Arab knife—a gift
from North Africa, handle sun-bleached wood
wrapped with coat hanger wire, steel blade
sharpened by hand and bent in waves
from opening K-ration cans. He gave away
the chocolate bars and most cigarettes.
He told us he picked bugs out of his mess kit
until he decided they tasted pretty good.
Then he caught more and dropped them in.
We knew the war by his jokes. He was the only son;
his sisters all married veterans. They sat in a circle
at our family picnics, hands wrapped around necks
of brown beer bottles, red coals of cigarettes
rising in gesture and sinking to mouth and armrest,
quietly talking over the drone of mosquitoes
after their wives sought the safety of the porch.
We crept closer to hear what they said,
but they pulled their silence tighter around them
like an oily tarp on night watch, darkness descending
until they finally said it was dark enough
to light the firecrackers they brought.
They held their ears and smiled.
Our father repaired typewriters, a lost art. Here is a poem recalling his shop in the basement where he let me help him when I was young.
My Father’s Tools
Leaning over typewriter frame, hands
ink dark with calluses, my father reaches
around type bars and brackets, levers
of tempered steel, hooking a spring,
placing the smallest screw
with magnetized driver. He adjusts
to touch, aligning letters
until they flow in perfect lines,
finger strike to paper.
Broken machines wait on bench
with glass jars of spare parts,
needle-nosed pliers worn smooth,
small torch for soldering type,
hooks, benders, crimpers,
oil can with long nozzle,
cleaning tub with black solvent.
He lets me scrub the type
and pivots, bathe them in oil,
wipe them dry until they shine
like reborn souls. Now the typewriters
are gone but I keep his tools,
fixing any problem. I show my son
how to grasp each one, correct angle,
knowing the tool by its function.
He adds his layer of fingerprints,
imagining machines he will build.
This poem is included in my collection, The Poet’s Garage.