Ideals of the Well-Intentioned

Ideals of the Well-Intentioned

A Poem by Vanessa Whiteley

 

A young American soldier
misses her mother
and her home in
Maine
where she skimmed stones
across Sebago lake.
It's where she skinned her knees
falling from that old oak
and had her first kiss
beneath its weathered boughs.

She knows she's bringing
liberty and a better way
of life for the children,
in a land where smoke
still drifts in the sky.
Ahead, she observes
a little boy with bare feet
leading a donkey cart
along the dust and rubble road.

Another soldier in an armed convoy
perceives
America
as the Land of the Free;
he views this desert place
like a fish that views
the sun through water,
only knowing
those he works with
are glad to have him there.

He imagines sweet-scented flowers
and his wife’s loving arms,
as he dreams of a small girl
near a mosque, standing
on a street corner;
she smiles
to see him driving
past her playground
while people hurry to Salah.
He thinks - she is the future.

No. She is the past.
Her ghost marks the spot
where a bomb devastated
her Baghdad school,
where desperate people dug
with bare and bleeding hands
to retrieve their missing children;
her little sister weeps
and wakes screaming at night.

The bare-footed boy
leading his donkey cart
might have been a decoy;
he could've had a bomb
and they with orders not to stop
even if pedestrians
were in their path.
A child’s life was not a risk
worth their taking.

The young soldier's ideals
shattered on impact,
as one more dead child
was enrolled on the list
of those that do not count;
perhaps somewhere
a war-weary teacher
noted another empty desk,
another missing pupil 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2008 Vanessa Whiteley


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Featured Review

This a very powerful and succinct poem that gathers emotional impetus in the vivid ending. The phrases like 'bleeding hands' and 'The bare-footed boy leading his donkey cart'. Those are filmic images. I especailly like the phrase 'ideals shattered on impact' too, as it suggests the guns.


Posted 16 Years Ago


6 of 6 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

A friend has come home and gone back again. It is a hard thing.

Posted 16 Years Ago


This continues to be a painful read especially because of things I've read recently about the war. I heard they were strapping bombs to young people who were either mentally ill or had Down's syndrome. Just when I think I've heard it all it gets worse.



Posted 16 Years Ago


a conscience Poem well writ with various motifs emphasizing it ... the imagery made the Poetic purpose cry out with vision and realization as the last strophe clearly reaffirms and like your sister states your Poem is like a visual vignette leaving me staring

Posted 16 Years Ago


I watched your words as the scene unfirled in slow motion across the screen of my mind. It is so sad, so real. How many times this has happened since the beginning of time. War will never be the answer, and I do not believe humankind has the ability to see past that. What loss.

Posted 16 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Victims abound and no one is truly a winner when it comes to war. "all we are saying is give peace a chance" as John Lennon sang. Your poem is well written and the message intense. lydia

Posted 16 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Just like Poeticpiers said so succinctly: When will we ever realise that war IS NOT a solution? That war leaves only victims ... the innocent children as much as the soldiers on the front line ... your poem illustrates that splendidly! xxx

Posted 16 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.

More sad than I can say. Frustrating and very depressing because we feel so helpless but uplifting for all that. A question, can beauty come from such? Regards Ken.

Posted 16 Years Ago


4 of 4 people found this review constructive.

Sad isn't it? When the real loss is the future? One must love the future enough to give something to the children to hope for. Now this is poetry with a conscience. This is the best poetry -- the kind that provokes and evokes.

Posted 16 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.

late here i bookmarked for tomorrow. luv.

Posted 16 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.

I learned about these kinds of things first hand when I was researching a story on a little boy who was accidentally killed when he and his father were going to look for a new car. Mohammed El Durra was his name. His death made national headlines, but I wanted to write the from the viewpoint of people in his country. I could hardly find any mention of his death amid all the obituaries of children who had been killed/martyred on that same day.

Your writing brought all that back to me in such a vivid and thought-provoking way. You don't embellish you tell the story as it is, which I think makes this all the powerful. Death is a matter of fact thing over there. There is no drama or great swell of events. It can be as simple as a little boy with a donkey cart or a woman walking into a cafe and then suddenly everything which was peaceful isn't.

A truly brilliant poem, my friend.


Posted 16 Years Ago


4 of 4 people found this review constructive.


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Added on February 8, 2008

Author

Vanessa Whiteley
Vanessa Whiteley

Bristol, England



About
Born in 1560 in Stratford-upon-Avon. I have a passion for writing but my parents wanted me to marry early. I ran away from home to see if I could make my fortune in London as my older brother had d.. more..

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