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A Medal for a Son

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A Medal for a Son
[Vietnam War Era]

Your mother watched
her pre-natal diet
for your sake,
while you father
sweated to pay the bills.

Each heart rejoiced
with pure delight
through years
of nurturing.

Bed-time stories;
playing catch;
bumps and bruises,
booster shots.

In sickness, health,
and major-minor mishaps,
all bound together
till death do us part.

"Son, take you vitamins;
mind you manners.
We'll be late for church."

Ah, then school at last where
disciplined learning reigns,
and the important thing
is to get along
with the group.

But soon, the bauble bursts
and the TV scene
shows hate, not love,
as Blacks lash out,
and cold assassinations
vie with a brutalizing
undeclared war
for your attention.

Then, on to
the highest school
where instilled dissent
ruptured the mind,
and freed the will
for aimless wandering.

Free at last! No restraints!
barefoot, bearded,
flowers in hand,
peace and love
at any price!

Old tarnished world,
You who made it so,
split too!

Damn the war!
damn the draft!
damn the track
you've put me on.
I want out now!

Temporarily lost,
the bewildered mind
free from bonds
of convention,
smells the sweet flowers
of oblivion and trips
into the never-never land
of no worries, no frustrations,
no reality.
But dreams get busted
and reality
crowds in upon you;
the old world demands
its pound of flesh.

from the draft board
starts the immutable forces
that work their ways
against you.

War, barbarity,
and primeval violence
soon push aside
the youthful values
nurtured from the cradle.

It's kill or be killed
and you find out
that killing kills
the killer
and dealing death
becomes a way of life.
For what? For naught
is the cry
of the youthful mind
that sees no sense
in the mutual killing
of pseudo enemies.

They too caught up
by the same monstrous forces
that use youths as shields
are loathe to kill,
and die,
for similar reasons.

But, lo you died,
despite our natal care,
for dubious, unknown causes
and denied for reasons
no one could adequately explain.

So, we went to Washington
where the president duly solemn,
and extravagant with praise,
awarded you posthumously
with an encoffined trinket
the ultimate absurdity,
a medal for a Son!
Francis T. Sganga [1968]


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    I am an 86 year-old retired educator turned writer. After turning 80 I wrote two books;


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