Sunday, July 26, 2020

Peace in Korea

Peace in Korea demonstration, Teaneck, NJ 7/23/20

The Korean War broke out in 1950 amid simmering hostilities after World War II, killing three million people including more than 34,000 American troops. It ended in July 1953 in a stand-off truce with armies still deployed on each side of the Demilitarized Zone poised to resume fighting. Military maneuvers over the years have periodically created havoc on both sides. A demonstration was held at the NJ National Guard Armory in Teaneck, NJ on July 23 calling for a peace treaty to finally be signed by the warring parties. This is a poem I read as poet laureate of Veterans For Peace. Thanks to VFP member Soobok Kim, a news story in The Korean New York Daily on July 25 included the poem in Korean and English.

Peace in Korea

By Jan Barry

One day, there’ll be peace in Korea,
Cherry blossoms will bloom all over the DMZ,
Hibiscus will twine with magnolias
Across the war-wary land.
Goshawks will fly with magpies,
Gunfire transformed into bird songs.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Summer of Death

Self-portrait  (photo/Jan Barry)

By Jan Barry

Summer of Death 

Summer of my 77th year
The gear for us ancients to wear
Is face masks—
I live surrounded by death
From invisible corona virus spittle,
Which has decimated nursing homes
In spring-lush suburbs—
The veterans home in Paramus
Was particularly hard hit,
But also the town where I live—

Is it safe to go for a walk?
To the food store?
The post office?
To visit my son
Who works in a supermarket?
Dare I go to the VA
For a doctor’s appointment?

What a life—
To have to consider virus risks
Just going out of the house—
Remember to take a face mask
On a walk around the block—
And what should I do if classes
Resume on campus in the fall?

I hear that nurses have PTSD
From trying to cope with so many COVID cases—
Now I’m getting more PTSD on top of old PTSD
Just thinking about all the virus risks

Memorial Day 2020

Bury ‘em six feet deep
Or stand six feet apart—
Clutch your heart,
Adjust your face mask—

Memorial Day is very
Different this year—
COVID deaths surpassed
War dead in weeks—
Body bags stacked
In corridors, backs of trucks,
Hastily bulldozed graves—

Never such a death storm
Since World War Two—
Casualties in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq,
Afghanistan topped in three months—

Shouldn’t we fly
The flags at half-mast—
Display gold stars in the windows
Of those so suddenly lost?

Obits jammed into newspapers—
So many lives snuffed out
Like candles at a nursing home
Birthday party—
Can you count them all--
Blazing in their 20s, 30s, 40s,
50s, 60s, 70s—
Virus sweeping through
Veterans’ homes
Like silent machinegun fire—

May Day, May Day!
The high flying life is crashing—
Fly overs by war planes
Won’t raise the dead, the dying—