Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Thousand Yard Stare

image from pinterest.com

 Thousand Yard Stare

“Their eyes stared blankly into space. They had a

million mile stare. They had seen forever.”

--Robert Heinlein.

It was everywhere

at Valley Forge in 1777,

chilled to the bone,

hungry, demoralized, 

low on blankets and ammunition.

Rising again in 1863

after the Battle of Gettysburg,

a Confederate private,

now a prisoner of war,

3,000 dead,

23,000 wounded,

capped by a glimpse

of Lincoln touring

the terrible battlefield.

Evident once more in 1950

in Korea at the

Battle of the Chosin Reservoir,

where 30,000 American GI’s

made a stand against

120,000 Chinese troops.

Present in 1968

at the Battle of Khe Sunh,

just south of the DMZ

where U.S. Marines were vastly

out-numbered by the North Vietnamese.

Persistent in 2004

In Iraq, at Fallujah,

Baghdad and Mosul,

the inception of the

New Millennium Crusades,

the never-ending conflict.

The thousand yard stare,

so full of death and shock and awe,

the pupils are dilated with paralysis,

images focus behind the lens,

and the occipital lobe

is blood-soaked

and bullet-riddled,

joining the ears

who’ve gone deaf

from the shrieks and screams--

and I see it all around me today,

as millions of Americans

battle the pandemic,

economic catastrophe,

and the rising seas,

while preparing for armed conflict

in our Second Civil War.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at d'Verse Poet's Pub


JadeLi said...

I see it too, Glenn. Shatteringly accurate.

brudberg said...

I really love this, and how often the war being fought are not for themselves but for each other or simply survive.

robkistner said...

Fucking sobering brother! I wanna say no way to your final stanza, but this country feels ripe for a social explosion.

Jenna said...

This is way too accurate. Well done.

Ron. Lavalette said...

I see it, too, Glenn, sadly. More than sadly.
Things could be different. We only have one thing to change: Our minds. Imagine.

Kerfe said...

We never do learn. And we are never prepared.

Mish said...

You served up reality here. It has been disturbing to watch.

Ken Gierke said...

Lessons never learned

Ingrid said...

Wow. You've really pulled this together so powerfully. The same stare on thousands of different eyes throughout the centuries and still it persists. I hope your Second Civil War doesn't come.

Kim M. Russell said...

Chilling, Glenn, both the history and description of the thousand-yard stare and the ominous prediction in your poem. People the world over are hungry and demoralized, but nobody expects that of the United States, one of the richest countries in the world. The combination of a poor president and a pandemic has done its worst. I hope there is a way through to a better life and history doesn’t repeat itself.

Misky said...

I despair that we never learn from our past.