It has become my tradition to repost this poem each Memorial Day and Armistice Day. It was written in respect and in memory and honor of the men and women all over the world who gave their strong, whole bodies and their very lives for a cause of freedom that could and should be available to all. The paradox of war to bring about peace is one that will always puzzle and disturb me. Nevertheless, it is what it is. This is for the brave, who fought and fight valiantly for their cause. Remember, always remember, and give thanks.
The Lad With Two Good Eyes
© Paula Tohline Calhoun 2010
When I was a lad I had me two eyes, see –
And there weren’t nothin’ could ever surprise me.
Me Da took me huntin’ for deer and quail –
Hardly a time did my gun an’ me fail.
Wherever I went the lassies would follow,
Somethin’ their laddies found hard to swallow.
But I had a smile, and a winnin’ way –
Was a right smart dancer, least that’s what they’d say.
Never thought much ’bout settlin’ down –
Too much fun bein’ best bloke in town!
But sooner or later they’d all want a ring,
And expected me to want the same thing.
But I didn’t care what they wanted or thought,
An’ t’wasn’t too long before we fought.
So I’d walk away, didn’t want no ties –
Never was much for farewells or goodbyes.
But the world got in trouble, and went to war,
And I had what me country was lookin’ for:
A fella with two good eyes who could shoot.
So I joined with me mates, and we learned to salute.
They shipped us off with our guns to fight,
Told us to kill, that our cause was right.
So I’d kill when I had to, I saw comrades die,
‘Til an enemy’s bullet took out me left eye.
The docs fixed what they could, told me I was well,
I got discharged and went home for a spell.
With less of a swagger, not much of a smile,
Now I roam through the city for mile after mile.
Some of the lassies who knew me when,
Will stop, smile politely, then hurry off again.
“The kids are home waitin’! Gotta run!” they say,
But I know they’s tryin’ to get away.
I wish ’em well, then turn to go,
I understand, but even so
Me heart aches for the kind o’ life
I might’ve had if I’d taken a wife.
Me life as a laddie before the war
Is gone, replaced now by a scar
That cuts down far beneath me skin
And shows me what I lost within.
The lad with the smile and two good eyes,
The one who could dance, but wanted no ties,
Stands alone in the crowd each Armistice day,
Salutes when the flag is paraded his way.
And when it’s all over, the sun has set,
He ponders the life he has now as a vet.
And remembers when nothin’ caught him by surprise –
That lad with the smile, and two good eyes.
Let us give thanks today for enough. . .