FRIENDS AND BROTHERS

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The world was close to Total War,
And freedom lost for forty years
In East. It was a time of fears
Of missiles’ drop and dead in scores,
Approach of Orwell’s ’84.

We could have walked the college halls,
Yet, loving liberty and land,
We took our place, we raised our hand
Against the Gulags and the Wall
Which irked our ire, we faithful band

Of brothers. We loved each other.
Each was a boy; each was a man.
And only we can understand
That Age, those tales we try to cover,
Prepared to take the Final Stand

As only friends and brothers can.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017

THE LOST CITADEL

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Lost Citadel reveals an age
When two great Powers struggled, War
Of silent chill. A ghost, like sage,
Walks down forgotten corridors
Of holocausts he’s set to wage–
Mad, he mutters tales of horrors
And histories erased from page–
Still poised to open Doomsday’s doors.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017

WISH FOR BETTER SPRING

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Lenin’s fist clung, and Reagan ruled,
A Wall in Berlin still stained red.
The rest of earth was Kremlin-led
And Doomsday hung: such was our world.

Some came from West, and some from South,
Still others Yankees, all bright youth.
We struggled hard to find some truth
Between a bottle and our mouths.

Some braved Britain, some Germany,
Most sat in Towers far from home.
Some sought Quixotic strength in Rome,
And grappled meaning for those free.

We each began our wistful page
In Age of Armageddon’s hold.
Now we are aged, as wine, I’m told;
Yet some are buried, such our wage.

Some have forgotten, memories
Wiped out by agents, sly, unknown,
Yet drum still beats in undertone;
We march together, you and me.

In year, how many shall be gone,
Cut by a scythe as old as Old?—
The tragedy of War gone Cold
Which we will fight till one, alone,

Shall whisper wish for better Spring.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017

 

MEMORIAL

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Your spirit lies at Valley Forge,
And down in New Orleans,
In Mexico where kings were crowned,
On Appomattox Green.

Your soul resides at Chateau Wood,
On beach at Normandy,
At Inchon’s inlet, next to bridge,
Where you fell for the free.

Your heart resides on little trail
Far from streets of Saigon,
On grand Grenada’s crests and cliffs,
And Beirut’s streets, anon.

Your youth now rests by rappel rope
And tower where you trained
To thwart atomic threat from East
And make them give refrain.

Your image lodges on a mount
That Afghans call their home,
And still commands Iraqi fronts
Where camels drink and roam.

Your spirit rests in Libya,
Where you stood for a cause,
And still resides in Syria,
To make the brutes take pause.

And now you’re in my memory,
As you are in my heart;
So let us cross! to shade of tree,
That day to never part.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017

(Photo: Staff Sergeant Randy Billingsley, United States Army Military Police Corps, lying in state, one of the thousands of unknown casualties of the Cold War. RIP Brother. Till we meet again. “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.”—— Stonewall Jackson).

SOLDIERS PAST

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My best of friends are soldiers past,
The ones whose hair has grayed with age,
Meshed ‘tween today and memories;
I never quite grew up, for part
Of each remains within my heart
Meshed ‘tween today and memories,
The ones whose hair has grayed with age;
My best of friends are soldiers past.

Eric M. Vogt
from NORTH COUNTRY CALLS,
“The Coldest War”
Copyright 2014

Cold War Poetry and Commentary

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WE JOINED

We joined because price was dearer
had we not, woe of World War Three,
boys dreamt of glory of M.P.s,
drank Agents by day—-some nights beer—-
babes prepared for wanton slaughter;
for next war would be war that
showered all with nuclear bath,
as we bathed in doomsday water.
Deaf leaders have forgotten how
we stopped Big Brother in his tracks
without a single rifle crack
(not officially up to now)
as hundreds of our best brethren
succumb to poison’s friendly fire
that lights nights in funeral pyre,
grave for lost of Fort McClellan.

from “A Soldier’s Song”
PATHS AND POOLS TO PONDER
Copyright 2013

——————

COLD WAR

We were in a war not a war
In an age at end of ages,
Somehow lost in all the pages
Of the higher books of lore.

Midnight and M.A.D.ness,
Goodness and badness,
Ground zero at atom’s core…
Youth lost and sadness
And a cold that lingers more,
Clandestine coolness
Of East versus West,
Distrust
We must
Let go, yet still wrest
With, the losses we endure.

We were in a war not a war,
From youth instilled deep and pure
With disdain for futures we were
Taught to forget to finest pore.

————————

APRIL 1981

Weather wilts us; royalty rains
And Thatcher’s silos gleam with grey.
We children play at World War Three,
In glee prepare for Judgment Day.

We wait for end of world gone M.A.D.
And stand the maddest of them all.
The chill of constant, pouring rain
Shades us as dead cast in pale pall,

We programmed youth, our show of proof
A thunderstorm, Armageddon
Pressed in us in languished lust,
Tooled with painful preparation.

We guard all secrets close to us,
No one to trust, for even friends
Could be foes in flash of moment;
Four minutes till Midnight, the End.

We serve the furrows of fathers
Parading through false memories,
Uniformed duties, knocking knees,
Nazis, Russians, Eternities,

Our fathers’ lusts for Huns and whores
We pour in glowing glass of gin,
Atomic memories, school drills
Done so as last child we would win.

We’ve been drilled well and live vain lives
Controlled by pleasures of the day
Soon to pass away, morals gone;
Such are the wages we must pay.

Waves of passion, deep depression,
Evil Empires, Ayatollahs,
Hezbollahs and reveille,
Eichmanns tried in absentia,

Such is the warm world we live in,
Impressed well in us with each day,
Destined to squeeze us more in graves
Bland as Beirut, all passions paid

For sins of fathers, their fathers
Too, or Three, or Four, succession
Of wars and dormant memories
Untended, as medals unpinned.

Eric M. Vogt
from “The Coldest War”
NORTH COUNTRY CALLS
Copyright 2014

—————————-

It amazes me how humans can forget traumatic times as if they never happened, a selective amnesia used as a coping mechanism. But in a collective sense, I think that nations do the same thing. Traumatic events—-the American Civil War, the Spanish influenza epidemic and 9/11 come to mind in our own country—-are pushed to the back of our collective conscience in an effort to go forward.

A bad consequence of this is that we collectively erase our history, and at the same time any hope for avoiding it in future generations. But the Cold War, unlike these other events, was a piece of history totally lost to the history books. Coupled with an age where history is just not taught in schools leaves a recipe for disaster.

So here we sit as a nation, forgetting totally that the Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics and its allies were collectively the most genocidal totalitarian regimes in the world’s history. Their downfall was caused by almost five decades of a conflict known as the Cold War. The present youthful generation did not live through the Russian-Chinese-Warsaw Pact-North Korean-North Vietnamese-Cambodian-Cuban experiment.

Today there are remnants only of that failed system. Yet more people were systematically butchered by it than by the Nazi regime. Today socialism has become an accepted phrase. How many people died in the gulags? How many in Khmer Rouge re-education camps? How many in Mao’s purges? How many in North Korean camps? The world will never know.

For those of us who lived through it, who took a stand against totalitarianism, we each hold it in our hearts in different ways. As children our schools conducted nuclear war drills where we were told to shelter under our desks. In the military we had a doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (M.A.D.), where both sides maintained a constant war footing with nuclear weapons that had the potential of destroying the world several times over. Our instructors drilled into us the sober fact that in World War III, none of us would survive.

Yet we served as a deterrent to totalitarianism. We were the readers of Orwell’s 1984 and ANIMAL FARM, written by an old socialist who had seen the dreams of his generation swallowed up by a totalitarian nightmare in the East, the Reality of Socialism, that in order to attain it one must be prepared to accept a central government with Total Power, the ultimate expression of “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Today the youth have been taught to tests entirely devoid of history and the humanities. Their parents did not teach them, perhaps because we wanted to forget the nightmare. These poems and others I’ve written of the Cold War and the generation who served in it are my feeble attempts to educate those not familiar with this era, and to remember the generation I served with, who were as brave and noble as those who served at Lexington and Bunker Hill and Gettysburg and Normandy and beyond. We were exposed to toxins and radiation from weapons of war that have remained secret to this day, the refuse of a World War III never fought. My generation has been “kissed by cancers” in our beds. Many friends have died or are languishing with early diseases that likely would not have visited them if they had not served.

These are the unknown casualties of the Cold War. And this is my memorial to them.

E

THE LOST GENERATION

The men that mixed with her were close to kings,
Who dreamed a certain grandness to all things,
As such, imparted qualities to she,
Now part of this great country’s history.

Yet now she rests, her children gone away,
All those who ranged her hills to come and play,
She but a shell of all that used to be,
With richness, glimpse for those who care to see.

We cannot swift-return to what has gone,
When we crusaded for what’s right and wrong,
But here we stand, the years gone by in score,
The world engaged yet still within our War.

And no one shall remember what we said,
Our courage and the way we fought and bled,
Yet still a certain grandness ours will be,
Though we be shells and pass to history,

With richness, glimpse for those who care to see.

Eric M. Vogt
Copyright 2017