Poetry Break – “Let Me Tell You How I Died” – Normandy
Well, we’re home. The adventure is over. It was so amazing that I’m still processing a lot of it. I saw places with my own eyes that I’ve read about and written about for over a decade. I ran my fingers through the sand at Omaha Beach and Sword Beach. I wove through a real trench from the WWI Ypres Salient that was once surrounded by shell craters and mud, but it is now surrounded by a bustling, modern-day city. I stood on 100-year-old battlefields that still bore scars I could both see with my eyes and feel with my heart. I navigated the chilled caves of Fort Douaumont where French soldiers withstood unimaginable bombardments and lost thousands of soldiers in the First World War. I stood at the mole on Dunkirk Beach that was once mobbed by 330,000 desperate soldiers trying to cross the English channel. I walked through beautiful cities across Europe and heard their bell towers chime. I stood atop the highest peak in Germany, and I also beheld the gorgeous summit of Switzerland’s Titlis Mountain. I took a picture on the same stairs where the Von Trapp children learned Do-Re-Mi. I walked down the vast aisles of churches that were hundreds of years old and heard their massive pipe organs echo. I met and spoke with people from all over the world, some of them I even stumbled my way through in French or German. I walked across Pegasus Bridge both the original and the new. I stood in graveyards that had seas of stones and wept for people I never knew but somehow feel so connected with despite the years of time between us. I saw way too many graves marked with the words “Known Unto God.” I hiked through the heat but also froze in the snow. I ate so much Belgian chocolate I got sick to my stomach, and I also had no regrets about it. I paid homage to a dearly departed friend by finding the tiny town in Belgium where he fought in WWII. I stepped up in ways I didn’t know I could at times, and crumbled with exhaustion at other times. Then, I sat bedraggled and frustrated for two days at an airport terminal in London and could only think of one thing. Home. I learned so much about the world and myself, and I cannot wait for the next big adventure.
I have loads of articles coming from this truly incredible trip. However, it will take me some time to get my ducks in a row, so to speak. So, while I research, reorganize and get myself back in the writing mode, I leave you with the next installment of my Poem Epic. As I have now stood on the beaches of Normandy, it packs more of a punch for me. I hope it moves you as well. You can also take a peek at the pictures from this journey by clicking here. I am so looking forward to catching up with all of you!
LET ME TELL YOU HOW I DIED
PART I – SEGMENT 4
It’s a cold gray morning, the water is rough
The boat tosses and jolts, I’m glad my gut is tough
The shore creeps closer, I see gun flashes
Obstacles, barbed wire, and debris burned to ashes
We stop with a jolt, though the shore’s not close
We’ll swim the rest, all the way to the coast
My body hits the water, I’m pulled down by my gear
I struggle to float as bullets zip past my ear
I swim hard for the shore and hit the cold sand
I drag myself up then give my buddies a hand
With yelling and rage, we storm up the beach
Though the fire is hot, the wall we must reach
Already the bodies lay in big piles
Blood in the sand and corpses tangled in wires
The man next to me drops in a burst of red
Another man goes, shot right in the head
Everyone falling, my own luck runs out
I take a hard shot, and I let out a shout
I breathe my last in my final fight
On the beaches of Normandy, my friends, goodnight.
To read an intro to this poem and the first segment, “The Blitz,” click here.
To read segment 2, “Stalingrad,” click here
To read segment 3, “Pearl Harbor,” click here