“WE ARE AT WAR!” gazettes proclaimed.
An enemy was boldly named.
We donned our uniforms to train
And learned to crawl through barbed terrain.
How quickly other nations armed
As placid peoples were alarmed.
Then scared as Hell, we sailed away
To gather in a distant fray.
The battlefield became our home;
With trenches as a catacomb.
Gray daybreak was our time to kill.
The sergeant’s order harsh and shrill!
The Reaper had been occupied;
By twilight’s pink we saw who died.
How many comrades made the list?
Who will be next? Why was I missed?
Some left us rhymes. They wrote them well:
“In Flanders Fields,” “The Bells of Hell.”
Bad wars produce good songs and books;
As gnarly branches make fine crooks.
No one’s designed a proper trench;
With depth enough to quell the stench…
The stench we daily stirred afresh,
Until all hear... and then it dies;
At last, one morn, a rumor flew,
Years facing death; we now faced peace….
Our weapons tossed on scattered piles,
The decades tumbled. Pages dropped.
The hourglass grains have never stopped.
In recent years I cringe with age.
The muster’s call is growing faint.
The Reaper stalks o’er field and fen.
Soon, there’ll be none; no one at all.
The second cutting of the grain
I hear the rattling of the dice –
Dice that the Reaper has recast –
So this campaign will be my last….
© Guy Graybill
Second Harvest is tied to the notion that every major war has a "Second Harvest." Each war loses combatants in combat and then, years later, those surviving former combatants face a final attrition as dying veterans, as America is witnessing now with World War II and Korean War vets.
My poem uses World War I for the initial 'harvest' since I find that war to have some unique characteristics that work well for my rhyming pattern and with my thoughts on the topic.
Guy Graybill is the author of five published books: KEYSTONE, BRAVO!, PROHIBITION'S PRINCE, PRINCE AND THE PAUPERS and FROST and WHIMSY AND WRY!
Guy attended rural Pennsylvania schools and graduated from Gettysburg College with a degree in History.
Guy Graybill worked in a Pennsylvania state capital mail room, in a brick plant, in the Geisinger Medical Center (Danville, PA) and in schools in Aguilar, Colorado (one year) and Loganton, Pennsylvania (two years). His career position was three decades in Middleburg, PA as a secondary History teacher. After retiring from Middleburg, he was elected to a four-year term as chairman of the board of commissioners of Snyder County.
Guy married his high-school sweetheart, Nancy Yerger. They have now been married for many decades and are the parents of four grown children.
Guy Graybill is proud of the support he has received from individuals who wrote the forewords to his books. They include a man who is now Budget Secretary to the governor of Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia opera singer, and a former speechwriter to five U.S. presidents.
Other than writing, Guy Graybill's hobbies include travel, amateur archaeology and photography. Guy has traveled in more than 40 of the U.S. states, as well as Japan, Okinawa, Canada and Guatemala. He conducted one local archaelogy project for the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial observance and his photographs have appeared on greetings, postal cards, and more than 100 covers of small magazines.
Note: I tried as much as possible to stay within WWI, but wanted pics to reflect the words, so some are from other wars...