With Remembrance day coming up, here are some poems I wrote for workshops I gave in Prince George a while ago. Please use them if they are appropriate for your Remembrance Ceremonies, as long as you give the copywrited author some sort of recognition. They range in difficulty and subject matter from about Grade 3 to High School
Gordon A. Long
The tombstones crown a hill in France, and what they stand there for
Is to signify the sacrifice that men have made in war.
And on each stone, the soldier’s name, what regiment he chose,
Some have a flowers twined around: a poppy, or a rose.
And even now, for some of them, with every passing year,
A loving friend has left a wreath, or laid a flower near
The stone, and taken time to show, with loving care,
That someone comes to think of him, and spends a moment there.
But there is one lonely marker that will never have a wreath.
The writing chiseled on the stone says not who lies beneath.
For no one ever knew the man who lies below that sod:
A Canadian Regiment
Known unto God.
His family never got the wire that said their son had died,
That the faceless hand of war reached out and brushed a soul aside.
The lonely nights they waited for the news that never came,
For the battle took away his life, and even stole his name.
So none will stand beside his grave, and speak his name aloud,
And none will tell a stirring tale to make his children proud.
Even names are trampled under where the feet of war have trod:
A Canadian Regiment
Known Unto God
Gordon A. Long
My grandma had a father that she didn’t get to know.
He went to war when she was very small.
When soldiers go to battle, they get shot at and get hurt,
And some of them…don’t come back at all.
My mother had a grandpa that she never got to meet,
Because he never came back from a war.
But she says it was important that he sacrificed his life.
We have the freedom he was fighting for.
I wish that they could stop the wars, and we could live in peace,
And never have to soldier any more.
‘Cause I don’t want to grow up and have to tell my child
That his grandpa died from fighting a war.
Hey Kid; Buy a Poppy
This poem is meant to be done in choral speech, following the lines as if one person were speaking the poem. The ellipsis… means a pause.
Chorus Hey, kid, buy a poppy!
Kid …Why would I do that?
Chorus C’mon, kid, buy a poppy!
Kid Ah, drop dead.
I never bought a flower. It doesn’t match my shirt.
I’ll spend my cash on DVDs instead
Soldier Hey, lad, have a poppy.
Kid You’re givin’ ‘em away?’
Soldier Here, boy, have a poppy,
Kid What’s the scam?
Soldier It isn’t any trick, son, it’s a symbol.
Kid …Of what?
Soldier What we gave you. Let me tell you who I am.
Kid You’re a soldier.
Soldier That’s the truth, lad, I’m a soldier, and I fight
In all the wars that there will ever be.
There’s many of us died, you know.
Kid I know that
Soldier You know why?
Kid I guess not.
Soldier So that others could be free.
Mother See my poppy?
Chorus Take a look, kid.
Kid Why would you be wearing one?
Mother For the mothers and the families back at home.
Our husbands and our sons went out and didn’t make it back.
And now we have to live our lives alone.
Chorus A poppy stands for freedom, kid.
Kid How would I know that?
Chorus Don’t you ever listen?
Kid …Not too much.
Chorus Everybody knows about the poppy.
Kid I suppose,
I just don’t like to think of wars and such.
Chorus You think about it kid,
Soldier Or else the next war could be yours
Mother If people never learn to get along.
Chorus You gotta fight for freedom, or they’ll take it all away.
Kid I do?
Soldier Or watch your world go very wrong.
Chorus Hey, kid, get a poppy;
Kid Well, maybe just the one
Chorus Sure, kid, have a poppy!
Kid Thanks, I s’pose.
If all those people paid their price, the least that I can do
Is help them.
Chorus You just might succeed
Kid Who knows?
Everyone So come on, kids, wear a poppy, to remember those who fell,
And make a little effort to repay
Their sacrifice, and keep our country free and safe from war,
For all the children who will follow you some day.
Gordon A. Long
I had a dream one night. I was walking through streets of a war-torn town. Houses with gunshot marks in the walls. Streets torn up, roofs torn down. Scrambling through the wreckage, I met a boy. He was only a boy, about 14. He was short, and skinny and dark. He had all this stuff strapped around his body.
I said, “What’s all that?”
And he said,
He It’s a bomb.
I A bomb? What are you going to do?
He I’m going to find a place where there are a lot of people, and I’m going to blow them all up.
I Why would you do a thing like that?
He Because my people are not free.
I But…killing a lot of innocent people?
He They aren’t innocent. They’re the ones living a good life, while my people live in refugee camps. You aren’t innocent.
I Me? I don’t live anywhere near you!
He You are rich beyond my wildest dreams
I I’m not rich!
He Do you eat all you need, every day?
I I guess so.
He Do you sleep in a safe, warm, house?
He Do you have a TV and a car and video games, and an iPod?
I Well, yeah.
He Do you go to school?
I Of course.
He Beyond my wildest dreams. And you live that life, because people like me live ours.
I What do you mean?
He Do you drive cars? Use up gasoline?
I I suppose.
He Which comes straight from my country. We have the oil, but you get it all, and we live in poverty. Guilty.
I So you would kill me?
He If I had to.
I And die yourself?
He Hah! If I die for my religion, I go straight to heaven.
I You do?
He Oh, yeah. And heaven is a marvellous place, believe me.
I But you’d be dead!
He So? What’s so terrible about that?
I Don’t you like being alive?
He Not much. I’m always hungry and afraid. I’m often too cold or too hot.
I I’m too cold or too hot sometimes.
He Yeah? Listen, kid. You’ve had more happiness, in your short little life, than I’ll ever see in mine if I live to be ninety. Which isn’t likely, with the disease, and the starvation, and the wars
He And if you live to be ninety, you’ll never feel half the suffering I’ve already had.
I I see.
He I doubt it. ‘Bye now.
I Where are you going?
He I told you. I’m going to be a hero. I’m going to fight for the freedom of my people, and they’ll write songs about me:
“To you with failing hands we throw
the torch, be yours to hold it high!”
I love that poem. I’m gonna make a really bright torch! (Exits)
And then I woke up. In my safe, warm, house, with my TV and iPod, and two cars in the garage. But I can’t stop thinking about that boy, and what a horrible life he has. And I keep wondering. Is he right? Does he have to live his life, so that I can live mine? Anybody want to…wear a…poppy? (Slow, sad exit)