WW II era in poetry

November 12th, 2018

In honor of Veterans Day

Eight poets — John Stupp, Aurora Lewis, Michael L. Newell, Robert Nisbet, Alan Yount, Roger Singer, dan smith and Joan Donovan — write about the era of World War II

 

 

Soldier on the island of Saipan during World War II

 

 

 

__________

 

 

 

Great Deeds

by John Stupp

 

 

In 1940

men were steel

not like now

they were poured

they were shaped

they were treated

you know the kind

they were thrown in the water

and made to swim

choking in the Ohio River

the Allegheny and the Mon

who back then

were coiled like snakes in the dirt

near furnaces

and mills

keeping warm with their fists up

like Fritzie Zivic

who won the world welterweight title

at Madison Square Garden

he elbowed

he choked

he punched

he cut Henry Armstrong’s eyes and mouth

he said

I’m not Earl Hines

I’m boxing not playing the piano

all of Pittsburgh was turned on

and many sons were born just in time

for World War II as it happened

and the rivers coiled themselves like new fathers in the dark

and the wind was soft on the water

not like now

and men performed great deeds

 

 

_____

 

 

Carolina Shout

by John Stupp

 

 

A song

by James P. Johnson

can say something

about a blue-fingered ocean

off the Carolinas

and not care

I know

having visited said ocean

after my Grandmother died

in the mid-50’s

and watching

my young father

motherless that day

swim out until he couldn’t be seen

past any map

he said later

he was returning to Europe

to the Saar Region

with the 63rd Division

only this time

there was no last view of Coney Island

no recruiting sergeant

no troopship

no infantry company

nothing

just the sun-capped Atlantic

breaking

with both hands

like the great James P.

on the life he meant to have

not this

 

_____

John Stupp’s third poetry collection Pawleys Island was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press. His manuscript Summer Job won the 2017 Cathy Smith Bowers Poetry Prize and will be published in 2018 by Main Street Rag. He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From 1975-1985 he worked professionally as a mediocre jazz guitarist.

 

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22 comments on “WW II era in poetry”

  1. “I Got Lena To Sing To Me,” by Aurora Lewis, is a first-rate poem which captures the angst of military service during wartime, along with the pleasure and relief provided by great music.

    1. Thank you so much Michael. Not being in the service and also not during wartime, I am so thankful that I was able to get my feeling across to my reader.

  2. Alan Yount’s poem “Smoking an Old Meerschaum Pipe” uses a careful attention to detail to tie together very disparate elements that come to fruition in the final stanza in a pleasing way for the reader.

  3. Both of Dan Smith’s poems are gentle in tone and attentive to detail. They capture fundamental truths about family relationships, and war’s effect on them.

  4. For Aurora Davis. I think your poem on Lena really captured what you could say was the “singing tone,” on war. I have always enjoyed your poems with JJM. Thanks for your comment on my poem.

  5. For Michael L. Newell. I liked your poem. It caught the “spirit” of the crooners. Being a trumpet player I have all of Harry James albums. He and Frank make some great music together. Frank did his eulogy in Las Vegas. By he way, I got your two latest books. Several of the poems have stayed on my mind. Also I can’t quit thinking I wish I had come up with the title: “Traveling Without Compass or Map.” What a great overall metaphor and title!

    1. Mr. Yount, I thank you for your kind words about my poem. I also thank you for your support of my books. Greatly appreciated. — MLN

  6. Wonderful poems by all. I especially enjoyed Dan Smith’s poems here. Artful…and with a deep, tangible sincerity that can only come from having lived and having felt with the heart of a poet.

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