A Soldier’s Last Songs

the eighty-two year old man
with the chalky white skin
and the permanently folded hands
lying in the casket
was the only one to know
the true reality at hand

his ability to see, no longer blinded
by his eyes, and other senses
his mind no longer gets in the way of his spirit
which waited all these years for release
he sees, in a different way, the shadowy figures
lurking, and flying about the room
like ancient winged creatures
right out of the alchemists’ Rosarium philosophorum

visitors paying last respects pour into the room
the shadowy figures multiple in number
like a mushrooming chorus
singing one familiar song after another
like the song of the children
where sons and daughters stand over their dad’s body
crying to be held just one more time
like the song of the grandchildren
wishing one more visit
to get to know the father of their parents
like the song of the wife
begging her husband to return to their bed
that tonight she might not sleep alone
there are no brothers or sisters
so this song, for now, goes unsung

then, the song of the friends, mostly older
streaming past the open casket, offering prayers
wondering when their time will come
among them, the man’s veteran friends
who sing the final song, the soldier’s song
reminding all of death’s disinterested stare

tears fill every eye in the room
as the haunting sound of taps
washes into the parlor
bringing with it
a legion of uniformed men
young and old
not from just one war, but all wars
one by one, they march past the casket
and with their voices lift up the man
and take him home

In Memory of Marie’s Father, Jack Keck

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This entry was posted in Death and Dying Poems, Empathy Poetry, Free Verse Poetry, World War II Poems by Don Iannone. Bookmark the permalink.

About Don Iannone

Don Iannone is a poet, writer, teacher and photographer who lives in the Greater Cleveland area. He has worked in the economic development field for over 35 years. Don is the author of three poetry books and five photography books. He is working on a short book of photographs and poems about human trafficking. This work was exhibited at six venues in Ohio. Don holds an M.A. degree in Art and Consciousness Studies from the University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles, where he teaches writing. His educational background also includes studies in Anthropology, Photography, Organizational Behavior, and Economic Development. Don’s website: http://www.donaldiannone.com Wisdom Work Press: https://wisdomworkpress.wordpress.com

12 thoughts on “A Soldier’s Last Songs

  1. Thanks Pat. Good to see you out and about.

    Dan, as always. Thank you, brother.

    Aurora: Thanks. Loved your word choice. Priceless.

  2. I really like this one — my Grandfather, who died at 80, years ago, was a WWII vet. and the flag was given to my Grandmother. For that moment there was so much finality – hard to describe. I was one of the paulbearers and it was a true honor.

  3. i love this poem. Its absolutely beautiful, but yet sad at the same time. its very amazing. your a wonderful writer && this came from the heart i can tell.

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