It’s not often we think in terms of foreign policy and patriotism being separate or at odds in their meaning. We should.
Ask yourself – Is the U.S. foreign policy one related to acquiring militarily the natural resources of other countries? The answer is yes. We spend little time invading countries where it is not feasible for profitable resource extraction.
So, let’s consider separating our foreign policy from the propaganda we get to endorse patriotism. Preemptive wars are bad foreign policy. We leave each country at the expense of military lives and a wasted treasury. No? Let’s consider Laos, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
After some thought, perhaps we might just say – I can now separate Bad Foreign Policy from Patriotism.
We have lost our way and must examine what patriotism really is. It is foreign policy exercised fairly and prudently with good will and good intentions. And, most importantly, with objectives and strategy. It’s a shame that so few lead so many of us into such an abyss of irretrievable national and international consequences derived from our preemptive wars.
A coma is losing control. The slipping-away feeling of our very life essence. An excerpt from Secrets Brought Home, here is Owen O’Brien’s remembrance of that life-threatening experience.
• Coma •
In a blink I could see.
No dreams remembered of people, places or things.
A vague memory of loud clanging noises,
That might have been wrapped in an eternity of years.
With closed eyes as blinds drawn to sight.
Rotating scalding bright blinding lights.
Stark bright lights ricocheting around within my imprisoned mind.
Bright red and hot electric white lightning within a kaleidoscope,
Flashing across my defenseless subconscious fears.
All, morphing into an abyss of dark nothingness,
Like a lightning storm passing in the night.
Then slowly, weeks, months perhaps, a dawning within
A DMZ, a demilitarized zone of sorts.
Where time was not occupied fully, not resident to remember.
Then a detaching from the void, a pulling toward, like on a rope,
From that which had held my suffocating muteness.
A gradual awakening, hurting, as if earned at too great a cost.
A Pyrrhic victory, won from an unconscious host.
An awareness not yet seen, with eyes glued shut from coma’s sand.
And my voice unable to discourse, throat frozen from inertness.
Emaciated, I reappear.
Like a phoenix rising, but from a colorless fire.
And then the shock,
My mind asked, my voice lost to sound,
Which world am I in?
Is this a cosmic joke, sins yet for me to pay? I am afraid to ask.
Yet I hear kind voices probing me.
Will I again disappear before I can reply? Again into that empty well?
Is insanity and disassociation my cross to bear?
For my part in that Secret War.
This time, whatever spirit you are, I have your rope.
Pull me in, and keep me near.
Hold me dear, for the life I knew, and want again
An uncomfortable memory of an adopted son about his stepdad’s life. The following poem is from a forthcoming book of poetry to be released in 2016. Joe was my stepdad. He never missed my ballgames.
• Joe My Stepdad •
Leaning into the cutting table and scissoring –
Stooped over the industrial sewing machine.
Teeth bared gray from tacks held and spit perfectly to hammer.
Sewing to the grainy hum and whinny staccato like sounds of a saddled wild horse
Always intractably cutting and sewing on
An unseeing upholsterer forgetting his parachutes of war for aviators.
Rote in motion, dead to thought.
Relief at day’s end from beer lids popped like the many parachutes he fitted
Folding his life’s fabric
As if to cover the ennui and the de rigueur of his spirits deadening
His work a heap of fabrics,
To be moved aside for more of the same
His life’s spark suffocated at his own hand within the darkened seamed
Creases of his existence
And within his state of torpor
Lived the unexpected.
A kindness seen dimly, almost bovine
Endearing in his silence, and barely seen in his dulled eyes
Helpful he, even though he was encapsulated in stasis stranglehold
As if willingly, his wrists out to be arrested by grief’s long term sentence
He, submitting to his own unyielding gravity
Pulled slowly toward his own upholstered shrouded death
His own upholstered car, his chariot in waiting.
He breathed in his last, as he sat and waited within his own seams’ clouded carbon monoxide making
He provided and I know he cared for me, but it was never mentioned
His dulled spirit and mine were joined when he left within his chosen trance
My stepbrother also chose his exit within ten months
That, too painful to describe. Even now, over thirty years past
The Heavens must have punctuated our human foibles
Layer by layer. Line by line
Stinging my eyes and salting my mind
I will always be sad
A poem to understand the thoughts of the returning vet. From a forthcoming book of poetry to be released in 2016.
• Coming Home After the War •
It’s the same, but smaller somehow.
Me, having left a disturbed world behind for someone else’s overhaul.
Me, feeling reprimanded and helpless –
Now, abiding in a world that has forgotten my youth, as well as me.
Misplaced, feeling my lack of a mundane social wherewithal.
I can look up my comrades from war, but I know their stories all too well
It can be read without words from the sadness in their eyes.
Can I hide this showing in my eyes?
Will my memories hide and rest behind my gaze?
My internal voice seems above,
Above the voices I hear in this small-minded society’s petty balderall.
Perhaps I might be more aware, but it is of things that spell inconvenience
And horror to the unassaulted unknowing people here and out there.
And so, I must live within my unspoken soliloquy
Mute and privately.
I share the murmurings of my memories in a private place
And burn the pain from my soul, before my fireplace
Still alone, but looking into healing, by staring back at pain’s face
Trying to find the peace within those who know nothing of war
We have become so attached to material goods and socialization,
We have lost touch with the best friend we have.
Getting in touch with Her Simplicity and Beauty is a lightbeam
In the corners of our primeval mind and DNA
That teaches us how to breathe in ways we have forgotten.
All the while, we work and live in the foul air and noise of our making.
Nature will prevail if we join it.
In practice and conservation.
And in so doing, being able to live past
Any of the world’s fleeting government squatters and their predictable declines.
Mankind is the welcome guest at Nature’s doorstep.
Poetry is the natural reminder of things past, present, and hopefully our future
Within this bubble of existence she has created for our safekeeping.
All creatures and existences are but poetry illumined
By the mysteries of our nights and days under a limitless sky.
We move and see and feel,
As Nature’s poetry has gifted us and reminded us of Her ways.
A former Marine writing Haiku?
Stranger things do happen.
Yes, our lives and our orders are often delivered in mental shorthand.
Experience is the great abbreviator of unnecessary long-winded and confusing declarations.
I choose Haiku because it creates image, metaphor, and clean short precise understanding.
A Haiku is a picture, always painting itself to me.
Who anymore consistently says what they mean?
I decided I will with my writing.
Speaking candidly can be daunting at times.
It took no small measure of courage to expose my evolving feelings and conclusions.
To do that, we must not compromise our sentiments or beliefs.
If we do, we run the risk of missing what we intend to be.
Being forthright in expressing our own opinions can put us in defensive or embarrassing situations.
But on reflection, isn’t life itself a bit clumsy at times?
Come read with me and perhaps we will crawl, walk, run, and even leap together into thoughts that we find on common and uncommon ground.
I have experienced great happiness,
But strangely, a lot of it came from knowing disappointments.
Having lived through disappointments, as we all do
I know my own depths and heights of personal failures and joys.
Some of me can be a bit cynical of humanity at times –
I measure and share my happiness with those I believe have good intentions, especially those with a humorous side.
A constant safe harbor for me is nature itself.
There, my psychic battery never fails to be recharged.
I can doubt humanity at times, but trust the constancy of nature.
Nature has taught me that it is in the measure of time, full of good intention.
But having said that, do realize that a modicum of doubt or cynicism serves a great purpose when analyzing the less trustworthy leaders of ours.
I can see with clearer vision by sorting out the chaff of pessimism from my desire for optimism –
All the while, knowing I have lived through both.
And in that knowing, I can express with less fear
The dark and light side of a life lived fully.