I learned the recitation of “In Flanders Fields”
from my dad, word for word and line for line
until I got it right. He’d recite his favorite
poems whenever he was self-medicated.
Pop saw action in Italy, the so-called
“Good War,” the integrated Army Air Corp,
its own small miracle for the time.
And so I’ll dedicate this subway poem
to his memory, keep the faith unbroken,
and let him sleep in peace.
Years later, before my own enlistment,
I came across Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est,”
and it shattered all my youthful illusions
about the glories of war. Later still,
I found James Shirley’s “Dirge,”
said to be Robert Frost’s favorite poem.
Owen must have read it as well, I’m sure.
This poem is about poems and father memories –
no subway trains run through it – and service
and sacrifice that sometimes goes unpaid.