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Thomas McGrath: Senators mine our lives for another war


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Thomas McGrath: All the Dead Soldiers


Thomas McGrath
Remembering That Island

Remembering that island lying in the rain
(Lost in the North Pacific, lost in time and the war)
With a terrible fatigue as of repeated dreams,
Of running, climbing, fighting in the dark,
I feel the wind rising and the pitiless cold surf
Shaking the headlands of the black north.

And the ships come in again out of the fog –
As real as nightmare I hear the rattle of blocks
When the first boat comes down, the ghostly whisper of feet
At the barge pier – and wild with strain I wait
For the flags of my first war, the remembered faces,
And mine not among them to make the nightmare safe.

Then without words, with a heavy shuffling of gear,
The figures plod in the rain, in the seashore mud,
Speechless and tired; their faces, lined and hard,
I search for my comrades, and suddenly – there – there –
Harry, Charlie, and Bob, but their faces are worn, old,
And mine is among them. In a dream as real as war

I see the vast stinking Pacific suddenly awash
Once more with bodies, landings on all beaches,
The bodies of dead and the living gone back to appointed places,

A ten year old resurrection,
And myself once more in the scourging wind, waiting, waiting
While the rich oratory and the lying famous corrupt
Senators mine our lives for another war.

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