Why and how can a woman who has never endured combat and never been in military service to her country possibly write poetry about war, and be impassioned with doing so? Another question may be how can she do this with any authenticity? And here in lies the need to describe an experience that I in 2005. The experience has transformed my life. It was an experience filled with extraordinary joy and extreme pain. It definitely looked as though I was having a mental breakdown and it took unimaginable strength to hang on to my sanity. But I did so with a strategy. I will share the results of this experience before I attempt to share the experience. Following are many of the results.
1) I acquired a knowledge that: “we are all one” while in China the spring after my experience. As a result I spontaneously addressed a Chinese workers protest on a Saturday night by running up to the participating seated workers. They looked hopeless. This group was protesting the torturous and bloody treatment endured by a number of employees. I went from one end of this group of about two hundred to the other end. As I did so I clapped my hands loudly while yelling “yes, yes.” Now this was a crazy thing to do in China – but it was NOT something I thought about. They, the workers, in turn got up and started clapping. Smiles came upon their faces and we each knew that indeed “we were as one.”
2) I learned to fly a 1947 Luscombe 8 tail-dragger at 60 years of age.
3) 5 different Vietnam Veterans who had seen combat chose to share their burden of war with me anonymously. Please understand veterans of war do not speak of their experiences to anyone but another veteran if at all. These veterans just came to me like a magnet.
4) I acquired a deep and abiding love for veterans of war. Whereas in the past I had thought of the veteran 3 time s a year.
5) I volunteered for 2 years at the VA.
6) I express my appreciation to veterans when I see them.
7) I made a spontaneous decision to give up my fear of heights and did so as I stood with my feet on the edge of a 2600 ft drop (no fence or railing) at Machu Picchu in 2007.
8) I came to a deep understanding of the love my father had for me (which had seemed to disappear when I was only 6-8 years old). After this experience I was bathed in his love and came to understand that it seemed to disappear as a result of WWII Combat PTSD. He was dead when I had this experience.
9) I discovered my mother’s WWII scrapbooks from the time that she had lived in London as an American employee of the OWI during the bombings. Yes, her personality too was shaped by war and very likely by Combat PTSD. I say combat because to endure bombing and have no ability to retaliate – well that is the worst kind of combat to endure isn’t it? My mother was not nice to her children. And that is a kind manner in which to explain her mothering.
Because the spiritual experience that I had was so complicated I shall simply relate the bare bones of it. As is my way I put out there; “OK what next? What do you wish me to do?” I soon found myself looking for my father’s WWII history in a number of places on line, especially in a WWII forum. I met a Vietnam Veteran there, a B-52 pilot. He too was looking for his father’s WWII history. He assisted me in my search. Then I wanted to know about his own war experiences. I was persistent. He was hesitant. I persisted and he in a halting manner shared some of his experience. This sent me into a tailspin of contemplation quite literally. I was unable to eat (trust me I never stop eating) and the need to walk, walk, walk (I don’t exercise) took up most of my time. I lost a good bit of weight. I set myself up with an energy worker to keep me grounded and a personal trainer to help me do the same. At the end of this I went to someone who “sees.” She was only slightly helpful. This is key, I experienced this Vietnam Veterans “pain” associated with his war. That was the hell of this experience. I went on to do what I always do which is decipher things for my self. Now this happened in 2005 and the last thing that I learned from this experience, I learned in 2011. I went on to study war. After the experience itself was over, I came to understand that this was a shamanic initiation. I have studied and practiced shamanic healing experiences for many years. Please understand this is not a religion. I know much more than the average person about shamanism. Throughout my spiritual path beginning at 15, I have like many, asked for a “teacher.” The answer has always been “no.” I have always had to do everything in life on my own. That statement sounds like “poor me.” It is quite the opposite and is evidence of significant personal strength. Throughout the experience I practiced certain shamanic rituals to help me deal me with the emotional pain and confusion that I was experiencing at the time. I came to understand (feel) that war is the most addicting of all addictions. I also fully understand why it is so. I have a Christian background intermingled with indigenous spirituality, a smathering of Hindu, Unitarianism, Jewish Theology, Buddhism and what ever other languages God created and gave to the world’s different cultures so that they could each grow spiritually and communicate with the creator.
I have written this as an explanation or prelude to my writing a collection of “War Poetry.” I am going to attempt at some point create a separate page here upon my blog for those poems. I wish to have them published. Today I have been newly inspired or mused by “The Headlines of War.” Now I realize that I need to widen that inspiration to simply “The Headlines.” Thank you for taking the time to read my words. I have a great appreciation for your time. Below is the first poem of war that I wrote after my experience. There is shall we say “language” in the poem that might offend.
Photo Credit Use of Boeing-owned photos posted from their web site are licensed for private, non-commercial use only.
I remember them.
Large black fins
in 67 & 8.
We’d drive to Kadena,
park the truck
watch them circle
behind the security fence.
All we saw were black
shark fins … taxiing for take off,
B-52s lined up for Vietnam.
The NVA called them
Three years…860,000 pounds
of carpet bombing.
coming out of U-Tapao,
Anderson and Guam.
They came in threes … Arc Light!
Coming from the 9th, the
22nd, the 91st, 99th, the 306th, the 454th, and
the 461st, they flew at 50,000 ft,
subsonic speeds, refueled in mid air,
carried 70,000 pounds of mixed ordnance.
Known with affection as BUFFS
Big Ugly Fat Fuckers
Ten, twelve hours in the sky
peeing in a sleeve,
freezing or scorched while
flying towards hell.
Clear left, limbs seen hanging
clear right, friends literally falling from the sky.
Then, the Christmas Bombings, SAMs brought them down
U-Tapao lost two in mid-air
One in each cell…one on final…the entire crew lost.
This is posted at dVerse Poets Meeting The Bar: The Unfathomable.