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Symphony Number Eleven

(Saint Petersburg, 1905)

    Adagio: The Palace Square.

Cold and quiet the crowd of cellos
gathers like snow in the clouds,
menace of timpani rumble,
an earthquake beneath the square,
a call of brass from some distant place.

    Allegro: The Ninth of January.

A restlessness of burning violins,
a swirling blizzard, a sudden riot
of snare drums like gunfire,
timpani horses thunder,
to the march and clash of gleaming brass,
a panic of piccolos and woodwinds.

    Adagio: Eternal Memory

A bent mother searches among the thump of drums
in the quiet dark of deserted streets,
picks through remnants of shattered violas,
crushed bass clarinets and trampled flutes
for her son, the harpist, who lies frozen,
stretched over the splintered carcass
of his wrecked and ruined instrument.

    Adagio non troppo: Tocsins

Tocsins toll in the churches,
a call in resilient G minor,
call to a future of violent trumpets,
trombones, cymbals of power, tubular bells,
celesta and strings but, for now,
the music is tacet in the square.

Symphony No. 11, OP 103 D. Shostakovich

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The opening credits were starting to roll

When a crack of light
And a shadow emerged from the door
A few seconds of silence
—A lifetime too short—
Before the gun 
Started to roar

With the first few
It was a loud crack
Then the patter
Like corn kernels
On a tin pan.

Then smoke and screams fill the air
Its heavy to breathe
Weighed down with fear
You are caged
Trapped like a rabbit
Between one fat man
And a lovestruck couple.

This is why you hate flying
The smell of death mixed with lust
Stronger than your
That sickening combination
Of roses and burning flesh.

You want to throw up
But someone 
Stole your liver and
Punched you in the stomach,
Taking your innocence 
With it.

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Redemption Song

Though fireworks boom flowers at the sky,

gun blast was a song eaten by our ears. I listened
to your—their voice as it was

my saving recourse—an unfathomable prayer
that teaches me how to scream my most silent

scream: a thunderclap in midnight’s peace. This
is tragedy unfolding before our eyes, dictated
through our ears. And later on, those nights and all
the other nights will be a corpse buried

through the amnesia of sepia skinned
newspapers—a myth trapped among
pages; an obituary printed
five or fifteen generations too late

But tonight, we found ourselves gathering what’s left
on the field: our bodies, trying to heal
the wounds left by these encounters: a burn that developed
into an eggplant swell—a wildfire mark that we call

our branding. Heroes on our time, we will never
speak—rather we will sing of this past
told as what history had remembered it.

And I will scream at the top of my lungs,
claiming victory over time that dragged me
to hell and back. And I will always go

here with this war song buried under my

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Damn Vietnam

Damn Vietnam

you have been home
some forty years
your rifle
under your pillow
each night
while you fire away in your sleep
I wonder why
for the war is over

Damn Vietnam

but it
is not over
it is 1966
all over again
the NVA
has just crossed the
you are in the middle
of the biggest battle yet
five thousand
you head north
Operation Hastings
Dong Ha
you have
arrived in hell
and air power drive
them back
finally, after so many

Damn Vietnam

you say nothing
until the whiskey
burns your throat
and the rage begins
its long climb up
as you attempt to
vomit out your hell
your war still there
on the surface
anger roiling
through your blood
you should be asleep old man
but your wounds are

Damn Vietnam

last night looking up
into the trees
clouds sailing
across the moon
crows speaking
I listened
while they spoke
of knowledge
of wisdom
of healing that would come
to my brothers
who were there

Damn Vietnam

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Can't Spell Disgrunted...

Let one more person thank me,
For my "service," as they call it.
See if I don't explode.
Because the ones who believe in what we do,
Don't do it for thanks.
We do it because we want to.
Because someone has to.
Please don't thank us.
Don't thank me.
Just smile and shake my hand,
And go about your day,
Hold your loved ones,
And be happy.
Because that's why we do it.
Not for the thanks.
Don't thank a veteran.
Live for them.

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Wounded warriors

There comes a time when one must stand
to take up arms hand in hand
with others stand and mothers cry
to take the road less travelled by
to offer aid to fight the cause
to be the one while others run
for liberty, freedom, and native son

Are you the one that takes this charge
to fight with others standing large
Can you this mantle wear with pride
and say well done with banner raised
to wear the pain that hurts your side
while others live you hold the scars
you mention not nor look for praise.

You stand or sit among us now
your heart so heavy your burden large
with missing limb or eye or brow
you take your stand at home but how
how can you last this test of time
alone without your youth and prime
you are our best our pride and joy
we love you still I say in rhyme.

- Trish 2012

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Equal: A Speech

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A Song for Shelter

Here we found rhythm

In the dripping of drops;

Rocks poured from the cieling,

A progress of aeons.

Untied my pack, sat and rocked

Out of the storm’s way.

I became a pendulum humming,

Rolling wet dust to paste,

Staining motions on the walls.

You built a fire,

Sung me an old placation.

The cave kept time

And I howled and squawked

Until I found the right harmony.

The thunder held the bass.

We told tales of capricious sprites

And the coming paradise

That lay somewhere close to here.

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The Poetry of War - Writing It

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 off.



I remember them.
Large black fins
in 67 & 8.
We’d drive to Kadena, 
park the truck
watch them circle
like sharks
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 
Whispering Death.
Three years…860,000 pounds
of carpet bombing.
Rolling Thunder
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
Operation Linebacker.
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.

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Know Too Much


Ever get the feeling that you know too much?

That your head's spun raw,

your eyes they strain and stretch?

Got the feeling that you need to learn,

because you heard that such-and-such was need-to-know?

People used to care about delivery,

a certain quality,

maybe religiosity,

perhaps even in the discipline of poverty.

We never knew about our history,

that was England's mystery,

for school was more about Egyptians and Hitlers,

the trenches and Romans, the French and the Germans.

Now they call this group the bridge generation,

as though they didn't teach us much

all the information now

is ready here at any station.

Suddenly you need to know too much,

and you heard there's code and such,

that every younger person knows.

That's right, huh?

You need to teach yourself to stop and stare,

to dive deep like stingray down into the glare.

And everywhere you look is wasted time,

phantom information misaligned online.

You feel you maybe used to know too much,

but now you're lost, as such

as the words scroll down, look around, you're a soft touch. 

Read a book listen,

it's not advice given,

it's a god-given aspect of our lives written,

by certain high-achieving leaders of the mind,

which you can maybe be in time,

if you listen to your mind's eye telling you it's right, yes.

You know too much.



Copyright Mark Manchester 2013