Thursday, July 31, 2008

Of Love and Loyalty

Reading Merwin had me wanting to play around with the long line, since I ordinarily despise it so much. This is more of an exercise than a poem I'm planning to keep in the collection, though I *am* interested in comparisons between God's children: Lilith, Adam, Eve, the Jews, Jesus. Heh, given that sort of company, no wonder Lilith feels like an outcast.

Of Love and Loyalty

Edit: Poem removed due to pending publication

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Contemporizing Language

One of Greg's concerns with the pieces I sent him from the Lilith collection was that the language was too mythic/biblical for a contemporary audience, and that I should throw them a bone every once in awhile to keep them interested.

Admittedly, my first response was a snobbish, "Well, if they can't remain interested in an awesome female character who *is* mythic, they can bite my left buttcheek. let them read Shel Silverstein if what they want is rhymey babble." (No offense meant to Shel Silverstein, whose work I enjoy quite a bit.)

Then I looked at it as an opportunity. I mean, if I contemporize the language a bit, I can let Lilith take what she wants from *all* time periods, which could be sort of fun. I'm having trouble making this happen in the pieces that rely on the mythic tone for their delivery (like the rewrite of the Hail Mary and of the Apostle's Creed), but in other places, it's a fun experiment, like in the the piece below, "Lilith: The Interview":

Lilith: The Interview

We didn't have proper clothes
back then. But I'm a fan of black
leather, purple eyeshadow,
and sky-high fuck-me pumps.
I like to appear taller than men.

No, I don't eat babies. I'm not
a succubus (don't you wish!).
I do enjoy a rare prime rib,
paired with a delicate cheesecake.
Ooh, and a nice, bold red.

I have no problem with Eve.
I think her taste in men is poor,
but the woman's got spunk,
eating the fruit God forbade.
I like women who break rules.

If by "rutting with demons"
you mean fun sex with men
who let me be on top
and enjoying it immensely,
then yes, mark me as guilty.

Well, God made me, after all.
Perhaps we should talk less
about bowing to human judgment
and more about accepting the demoness
God himself allows to roam free.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Letter from Lilith to Eve

This is the poem I've had the hardest time starting: a letter from Lilith to Eve. Is she condescending? (The poem sort of starts out that way, with the "I hear you bought into the rib tale".) Forgiving? Does she understand why Eve made the choice to stay and play the role of subservient helpmeet? Is she proud of Eve for tasting the forbidden fruit and showing some spirit even as she stayed in voluntary servitude that Lilith herself wouldn't have stood?

I conceived it as a letter from a rebellious older sister to a more obedient younger sister - a few secrets about hidden pleasures, some advice, some respect, and a grudging admission that their roads are likely permanently divergent, but a raw reminder that they're not so terribly different. And yes, this is definitely informed by my relationship with my sister, from whom I'm pretty much estranged. My hope is that the complicated relationship between sisters - the frustration, the love, the envy, and the tenderness - all shine through. A tall order, I know.

Update: poem removed because I've sent it out for competition after some additional revisions. If interested, either comment or email me and I'll shoot you a copy!

The Lilith Collection

The Lilith collection is coming along. Greg has had some great critique that is helping me with revisions, as have my buddies in the SWING writing group. Drew in particular, who really pushed the idea of creating a collection and encouraging me on the project, has been a great help. happily, now that the creative juices are not as blocked, I've been wrestling with a few new pieces. I started out with the impetus of "What stories would Lilith want to tell?", and that engine has slowed a bit for me. Now, I'm turning more to "What would I ask her if I had the chance?", and that's where this new one comes from. I mean, talking to the first woman, wouldn't you wonder what the first man looked like?

Still not certain about keeping it in tercets, though I think it works well enough to propel the poem along. I sort of like this one, because I know I've caught myself remembering a loved one and been somewhat horrified that I could have forgotten the details of their face.

Update: the poem "The Forgetting" has been removed because I've sent it out. If interested, comment or email. (Yes, I know that's a pain in the butt, but if it appears on a blog, it is considered "previously published" for a lot of lit journals and they won't consider it.)

Harnessing the Power of the Line Break

One of the fun things about working in poetry as opposed to prose is that you have the opportunity to harness the power of the line break. I find it very frustrating when folks read straight through a poem without any (even minor) pause at the end of a line. It's a poem. If it were meant to be read without paying attention to those breaks, you may as well just chunk it as prose. The line break is essential to a poem - it creates a specific rhythm (truly - read Nikki Giovanni and then read Merwin. The difference is startling, and it's not just because of the difference in subject matter. The length of the line makes a great difference in the delivery of a piece and how you must breathe to get through it. Yes, you may be reading it to yourself, but the true experience of poetry is aural, and you should think about that that as you read, and even read some pieces out loud to yourself to see how they work with your breathing rhythm.) Anyway, yes, a giant peeve of mine is folks ignoring the break.

The line break. It provides the opportunity for the poet to not only play with rhythm, but to play with language as well. I attended a small group discussion led by Trish Jaggers, a Kentucky poetess and soon-to-be Spalding MFA grad, where she discussed syntactic doubling, or creating multiple meanings through judicious use of words at the end of a line. I find myself fascinated with line breaks, and how those breaks create multiple meanings within the language. I'm currently working on a piece I'm not certain about keeping, but have been really enjoying working with the line breaks to create something more powerful. One of my favorite lines is "God says I am" followed by the self-affirmation of "worth more than rubies. I am" - but of course, I'm biased. And this is a new piece, so I couldn't even tell you if it's worth keeping yet or not. For your critique (and hopefully your enjoyment), I offer "I Am":

Edit: Poem removed due to pending publication

Monday, July 28, 2008

Chapbook Semifinalist and More

More news! (I do love it when the news starts coming in - even if it's rejections, at least it lets you know the wheels are turning and something is happening.) I received an email from Diane Goettel, editor of The Adirondack Review, to let me know that my chapbook manuscript Warsongs came in as a semi-finalist in the Fall 2007 Black Lawrence Press Black River chapbook competition. I also made semifinalist for the Spring 2007 competition with The House That Falls Down. I'm particularly pleased because they're both collections of war poetry, which I know is sort of a no-no for a non-soldier chick to write about. But I did make sure to vet them through my brother, who is a U.S. Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He shared them with his buddies (without my knowledge or say-so) and said the guys thought they were good...and if it's good to the folks who experience it, I count them as not half-bad.

But yes, two semi-finalist position for the chapbooks, so I feel like I'm close. Unfortunately, hand grenades and horseshoes and all that. Either way, it gives me the gumption I need to actually work on revising those pieces, and I believe I'll send a bevy of them to Greg in my next packet along with some Lilith pieces. Poor Greg. I hear of other people who struggle to fill a packet with 8 poems, and here I am sending the man chapbooks every time. Ah well, if he wants a break, I do hope he'll let me know. I should be getting packet #2 back from him any day now, as I'm due to mail packet #3 out next Friday.

I should also be hearing from Diane Goettel again soon, since it says the Spring 08 competition should be judged (or at least the finalists announced) by July 31, and I did submit three different chapbooks for this round. sheepish I know, I know. But, I mean, I have a number of chapbooks, and it does me no good to have them sitting and collecting dust instead of out at a publishing house. And semi-finalist status made me think maybe they like me. (Unless they only had a handful of people in the competition and everyone who didn't make it got called a "semifinalist." But let's not think that way.)

So yes. Plans include polishing up the Lilith collection, hoping to hear back from Bellowing Ark (I just sent out those solicited materials), going back and tearing through the war poems to get them hale and hearty enough for journal submission, and getting through the rest of the MFA semester, which is rapidly drawing to a close.

I have also been considering approaching the woman who directs the freshman writing program - apparently in the MA program you can adjunct and teach a course if you have 18 hours in. I was biding my time since I'll only have 9 hours of MA work done by the end of this semester, but I forgot that I've already finished 16 hours of MFA work (and it'll be 32 hours in October). I wonder if that'd count and they'd let me teach, given that I already have the MLS and can teach the kids not only how to write decently, but how to do research as well. Must ask, and then must run it past boss to see if I'd even be allowed. But I think it would be a great idea to have a Literary Librarian teaching the incoming kids.

So, yes, much on the plate, and choices to be made as to what I want to write my MFA critical thesis on - I'm currently considering doing it on Komunyakaa, but we'll see. My next post here will be an attempt to sketch out my idea for designing an independent study on national epics that read as poems - more research required on that front though.

So, in short, very happy at semi-finalist status even though in the end that means I'm just the first (or thirty-second) loser. Also happy to have solicited work out of my hands - at this point, the editor either likes it or he does not, and there's little I can do about it. And now, for the waiting...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

New Draft: In the Dark of the City

New working draft. It's interesting - when I write about something that turns to nature, I inevitably return to Kentucky (where I spent nearly 10 years), or to Long Island and the ocean where I grew up. And my distaste for the cramped, loud, too-much of the city always shines through. I think this one will be salvageable with some work.

In the Dark of the City

The dark has come and eaten its fill
of my familiar life. The lawn
is an oildark sea of strangeness,

and the street beyond a dimlit river
patrolled by strangers ensconced in steel
and glass. Even the safe corners

of my home are stained with tarry night,
it saps the warmth from my kitchen, seethes
under my bed waiting to slip beneath

the blankets and curl behind my knees,
a faithful hound. In the city,
the dark is thicker, stars that shone bold

in the vastness over horse farms and cows
are become shy friction sparks between
the layers of abandonment cloaking the world.

Bellowing Ark FTW!

After an extremely long day yesterday, I received an email from Robert R. Ward, editor of the literary journal Bellowing Ark. It was a lovely e-mail, for a number of reasons.

Reason #1 is not just because he requested to pick up all five of the Lilith pieces I sent him (though that was enough for me to do a little dance in and of itself. Bellowing Ark does a "Featured Poets" section where they present multiple poems by a single poet, and I think I may have scored that section if they're taking all 5 - but we'll see).

Reason #1 is also not because editor Ward asked to see more of my work, though this reason is definitely #1a. That's never happened to me before, and I'm ecstatic about it. Just think! Someone soliciting more of my poetry! Excuse me while I do a happy dance here on my couch...

The nicest thing about this email is that is was just damned kind. As a writer, I work with words on a constant basis, and I try to always be mindful of the impact my words have on others, though admittedly I'm more conscious of this when writing poetry than when dashing off an email or a FriendFeed message. What I don't pay as much attention to is how much other people's words affect me. Let me share the first line of the email with you, and I hope Ward doesn't mind:

"Your poems came as a delightful surprise and brought some enjoyment to a tedious workday."

How wonderful is that to read? That is exactly how I want people to feel when they read my pieces, and I am beyond thrilled that I could engender that sort of reaction from an editor of a long-standing lit journal. It's more than that though - I am ridiculously grateful for those few words - it makes me feel as though the sweat and tears I put into my writing is worth it because someone enjoys it. And telling an author you've enjoyed their work...well, other than buying a copy of their book, if they've got one, that's just about the nicest thing you can do, as long as you're saying it sincerely.

The titles picked up by Bellowing Ark are "The Book," "God in My Throat," "Retrieval," "Drawing Board," and "Original Sin." These are all pieces from the as-yet unpublished manuscript God in my Throat, that Lilith collection I yammer on about at length. I have never even heard of anyone placing a whole submission anywhere, much less had it happen to me. Whee!

So, thanks to editor Ward and Bellowing Ark for making my weekend a very happy one. I'm looking forward to seeing these pieces come out in a good lit journal home, and will be thinking about what other (solicited!!) pieces to send editor Ward's way. Huzzahs and warm fuzzies all around!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fastest Ever Rejection

Had to duck my head in and report the fastest ever response from a journal: I mailed my submission to Beloit Poetry Journal on July 15, and received their rejection slip on July 24. Yowch. Apparently I don't just suck, I suck so much they sent me the notifications on wings.

Monday, July 21, 2008

On Loving Men

Struggling to write a new piece for the Lilith collection, but hey, any start is a good start, right?

On Loving Men
Note: Poem removed due to pending publication

July Update

Last week I mailed out packet 2 of 5 for my second MFA semester. I haven't gotten the chance to do any gnarly revising, but am coming to that now that the hectic traveling part of my summer is done and I can unclench my brain.

Let's see, what's new on the writing front... I'm part of a writing group that works via GoogleGroups, and that has allowed me to get feedback on some pieces that are far different from my usual writing and a bit out of my comfort zone, so that was useful - these folks don't hold back and it's the best way to get honest critique. And Greg has given me some feedback I need to get cracking on for the Lilith collection, which I've mostly been sitting on, though some new energy is now simmering for it. I've been receiving a steady stream of rejections from the pieces I sent out in April, so I sat down last week and sent out another batch to - count them - forty-one journals. I feel slightly less like s slacker now. I also applied for an assistantship for next semester, since my bootstraps are no longer quite long enough.

Workwise I've been relatively productive, too, but am mostly pleased I got a grant application in under deadline, and am praying that they approve it even though I just got a grant in April. Once I hash out my presentations for Internet Librarian (an October conference), I plan to concentrate on one article at a time until I've written the three I've got percolating in my head. Chasing the tail of the tenure dragon, yep, that's me. My creative writing doesn't count at all in this venue, but I'm really tempted to report it in the 'semester accomplishments' for faculty the University puts on the web.

In addition to the 16 hours of MFA coursework, I'm signed up to take a poetry workshop with Earl Braggs and a class on critical theory with Matthew Guy here at UTC towards the MA in Literature, which I may manage to finish the semester after I finish the MFA. (Which really begs the question, what do I do after that? The EdD? The MSCJ? So many choices...) Fall semester should be nice and busy, just the way I like it, and I'm dying to get back into the classroom. As a teacher, you smartasses *wink*

Anyway, am planning to seriously dig in on some revisions of the Lilith collection, maybe bang out a few new pieces, which are desperately needed. I feel like my blood has turned to clay in my veins when it comes to writing on this anymore. Time to ramp it up and fire the kilns, folks.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


One of my prompts from Greg was to write about an object for which I had great affection. I don't have many (I mean, I love my books, but I can rid myself of most of them without tears). The few things that came to mind were Duchess, a stuffed white persian cat my Nana got me when I was 5 (she is currently in my closet so Otto the Basset Hound of Doom does not eat her), a Claddagh ring I received as a baby from my grandfather that I never take off...I'm sure I could come up with others if pressed, but these are really my most prized possessions. (A monetarily worthless old grayed stuffed animal and an un-bejeweled ring that would impress no one, I'm sure. I need to work on hoarding better stuff, I suppose.) A bud vase I received from my father when I was very young was on this list, but it fell and smashed when I was in my teens. (And yes, I'm still devastated about that.)

This is also not to say I don't have anything else of value - my mother has given me more than I can count. Shout out to the mom-ster! Just not one particular object that holds everything she means to me.

Anyway, I felt silly writing about the cat (though the vase is likely a good idea, will set that aside for later consideration), so the ring won out. This is literally a first un-revised draft that I sat down and spat out. As always, all criticism welcome:


I’ve had it for as long as I can remember –

ten carat gold, no gems, diamond-cut to glitter.

He gave it to me when I was a baby;

I was too small to wear it so my mother kept it

in a velvet box in the safe dark of her dresser.

He asked about it when the cancer started

gnawing at his bones,

and I was allowed to wear it

on a chain around my neck.

I liked the weight knocking on my collarbone,

like a bevy of Irishmen

stippling a family history onto my heart,

a summons of Papa’s memory

when it warmed against my flesh.

I was proud to own something that glittered,

proud to call something precious mine,

I would slip my finger in

to the first knuckle and tug,

that reassuring circlet as good

as when Papa held my hand.

He was an O’Reilly.

The ring made me Irish, too, I was sure.

When the chain broke in gym class,

I defied the teachers and blackened my knees

until I found the ring camped out

befriending dustbunnies under the bleachers.

The very next day, I went to the kiosk

in the mall, and had it resized. Twenty years

ago, a man stretched the small band

to make a snug fit,

my flesh has had to move

to accommodate the gold,

no longer a perfect circle, dented

by softball and hard work. I can count

the number of times I’ve taken it off

on the same hand I wear it:

the skin beneath is young-girl white,

unblemished and always new.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Poetess Works on Getting Her Groove Back

So, as I sit back down to write, I find I can't start right back into the pieces I sent in my last MFA packet. At least, not right now, not on a laptop. I need to do that with paper, ink, and enough space to surround myself with copies of drafts and Greg's notes and such. By the time I got myself set up for all that, it'd be time for bed, so I decided to take a different route and leave that for the weekend. Instead, I thought I'd turn back to a project I've put on the way back burner, mostly because it's rather in a similar tone to the poem in my last post, sort of a sassy, rougher rhythm than my usual work, a little bit raw, a little bit bitchy. It's a fun way to work, if not as natural as I'd like for it to be. My best piece in this vein (in my opinion) is called "Love Letter From a White Woman," but no one has picked it up yet. I'm thinking about calling the collection "Muse Made Me Her Bitch," and that's the piece I'm working on right now.

What I'm really trying to do is get my mojo back. It's been a hugely hectic two months, and I feel completely off. I'm off my writing schedule, I'm off my sleep schedule, I'm feeling wonky and both under- and overwhelmed. So, here's to me trying to get my groove back: that's how the upcoming weekend will be spent. For now, I'm getting back to writing about my muse. And how she wears kitten heels and a purple duster jacket and keeps a bottle of Beam at hand. You know, just in case.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

To the Guy at the End of the Bar

This poem was originally incarnated (enpaperated?) as a short, innocuous thing. Then I got into a bitchtastic mood today and pretty much rewrote it into this. Liking the rhythm & snarkiness of it, personally. What do you think?

To the Guy at the End of the Bar

look at me

look at how hot I am

sitting here

like a big plate of YES

with my legs crossed

and my eyes narrowed

in my black skirt

and my good bra

look at me

sitting here

on this fake-leather stool

tracing your name in the air

with my sharp high heel

sitting here

waiting for you

to smooth your cowlick down

to brush off your shirt

to forget how the last woman

sent you slinking back

to your piss-warm beer

and your fish-cold wife

look at me sitting here

looking just like you fear

your daughter will look

looking at you the way you fear

your daughter will look

at that guy at the end of the bar

look at me

A Great Mentor is a Great Thing

I just received my first MFA packet back from Greg Pape, and it was a doozy. I sent far more original poems than I should have, and he was utterly gracious about it. Greg works by annotating the packet, sending a letter, and speaking into a cassette tape. Can I just say - - Best. Evar. If you've ever met Greg or heard him read, you know he's got a mesmerizing voice. Getting his advice both in writing (which I require for academic processing, because that's how my brain works) and via audio (which lends a wonderful personal note to the packet exchange) is wonderful.

Greg is also one of the most diplomatic workshoppers I have met so far. He manages to blend his critique (always to the point and very useful) with non-pandering praise so that you really do feel you have some worth as a writer and that there's something salvageable in whatever you sent that needs work. I sent Greg a goodly chunk of my Lilith collection, which none of the other faculty has seen yet. It's been niggling at me, and I've been stuck - something seems off, although I'm still enamored of the project, and this rut has really derailed my writing.

Greg hit the nail right on the head. I was paying so much attention to rhetorical structure, language and rhythm, I got lost and forgot about how essential crisp images are. (Um, yeah. IMAGE, Poetess. How do you forget a thing like that? Idiot.) There were other criticisms that were also on the money - like that staying too deep in mythic language without dipping into the contemporary is overwhelming, and some other things, but the overarching fixable thing is image. D'oh. Anyway, Greg pointed out some of the weaker areas that can be shored up or rewritten, and now that I have a handle on the areas of suckitude, I feel empowered and able to write again, and do some serious revision work.

I'm frustrated that it is something so obvious (though pleased that it's something fixable and not a flaw with the idea of the project itself) that has been holding me back on this. Then again, it's a nice reminder as to the importance of having an outside reader who is willing to wrestle with your work on its own terms and ferret out exactly what it keeping it from being excellent. I'm lucky enough to have not only friends who are willing to read and critique for me (and friends who write in different genres at that!) but that I've got access to great mentors through Spalding's MFA program. Every once in awhile I ponder at the selfishness of pursuing an expensive degree that doesn't net me much other than personal satisfaction and better writing...and then help like this comes along, or a kind comment from a fellow writer who understands the frustrations of being a writer, and I realize that my life is better for this.

I'll admit that my anti-hippie stance led me to laugh at all the self-actualization hooey you hear about from life coaches (and, um, Maslow). But I'll tell you what - absolutely nothing beats having a career you actually love, and pursuing the things that are important to you and make you feel whole and right. And if that's selfish, well, then let's count it a good thing that I don't have kidlets.

And back to the mentor topic - yes, get someone who reads your work. They don't even have to be a writer, or in your genre - just genuinely interested in helping. I'm always amazed at the great insights that the quote-unquote-untrained come up with. It's often more insightful than what you can get in a workshop because they're not constrained by 'rules' or what they think they should say. Go for it. Can't hurt!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hard to Write

Ugh, I've been violently ill these past few days (and this post is also being written in between bouts of unpleasantness). Been wrestling with some decisions I've made in the past, and someone I know online was also mentioning how difficult life's choices are. Good fodder for poetry, though I'm not much a fan of confessional mode. This'll likely get chopped up and the pieces used in separate poems, but here's a first shot at it.



He swept twenty-six years aside

in a bout of midlife crisis fueled by crack

but he calls every night between ten and two

in the grip of paranoia just to hear my voice

and to ask if I sent them if I sent these

low men to watch him through the walls

and every no I send hurtling over the line

gets lost in the fury in the shadow of a life

and he tells me he’s coming he’d like to

take a trip he’ll drive so when I buy the gun

he can take it back to New York with cops

none the wiser not knowing a thing

and the images of broken glass and mom

cowering in a corner while Meaghen called the cops

haunted me in the hours it took to choose sides

to place the call that made him call me

lucid enough to know what he meant

when he said aloud You are not my daughter


I stopped taking the pills from the beginning

they didn’t help the pain they dulled me

I didn’t want to be dull when you came to me so seldom

so seldom in the night when I left the candles lit

and you loved me in vanilla light

I thought maybe a miracle maybe a chance

maybe some small sign God is kind

could cure me and bind us and fix things

you kissed my throat and I wrapped my legs

tight around your waist wishing

for a different ending with tiny fingers a different

cure than tears and the great wide emptiness

and I loved you and the thought of you

as a father as mine I thought of us forever in the morning

but I bled and the doctors took my womb and you left

and now the only crying at night now is mine


My mother is never sick but she called

sounding like she had hauled water up a bridge

sick so sick she said she couldn’t move

when she hasn’t missed work in three years

in tears when the doctor pooh-poohed her away

but I knew I knew it was more when she was so weak

and a new doctor found the thyroid wrong

which was more than nothing but less than cancer

and she always sounded so strong I was new

at work I was broke and tired and far away

and a trip to Anaheim breathing down my neck

so I accepted her fine because I needed it

and when she had to swallow the iodine pill

that was radioactive I didn’t ask her if she dreamed

of her mother and father and uncles and aunts

and all of her cousins who died after chemo

and Anaheim called right after mom did

and she gave me the fine a bit stronger like a gift

so I could believe and I could look at myself

without too much hate that was her gift and when

I stepped onto the plane it was not to go home

Friday, July 4, 2008

Conscience: Another Rough Draft

Another rough draft - am not quite sure this one captures what I'm going for. I think it's obvious what it's about, but what I'm wondering is if it adds anything new, or just rehashes what we already know in a tired way. Still not certain I'm happy with it. I'm also trying to work my way away from punctuation, and am still a bit uncomfortable without my commas and periods.

Edit: Poem removed due to pending publication

Apologies and a Draft

Hey all, apologies for being incommunicado for so long. Between the MFA residency, book chapter writing, and the ALA conference in Anaheim (from which I am recently returned), my poetry writing (and blogging) has suffered a bit. I have a few rough drafts of some new pieces which I'll post on here as I'm working on them. I've got two I'll post tonight, this is the first. (Again, in super-rough shape, so any and all criticism welcome. The shallow rhyme scheme was just a tool to get me working.)

To the Soldiers of the World

Kiss your mother, soldier,

she hears mortarfire in her dreams.

Kiss your mother, soldier,

she recognizes your face

through the coat of greasepaint

and the rictus of your screams.

Kiss your mother.

Kiss your sister, soldier,

she sees tracers in the dark.

Kiss your sister, soldier,

remember how you pulled her hair

and threatened her first dates

as your bullets find their mark.

Kiss your woman, soldier,

she is as soft as you are hard.

Kiss your woman, soldier,

she sends letters sealed with perfume

that seeps into your fatigues

and often catches you off-guard.

Kiss your woman.

Kiss your children, soldier,

they recite your name in their prayers.

Kiss your children, soldier,

they are too young to know it now,

but later they will judge all men by you

and find none other compares.

Kiss your father, soldier,

feel his scars beneath your hands.

Kiss your father, soldier,

he has been where you now go,

a picture of a man who lived

through war’s hideous demands.

Kiss your father, soldier,

and head off to those foreign lands.