Poetry


The Death of Private Jones

Harold Applebaum, copyright 1947

Let's say that Private Jones died quietly.

Let's say that when the first wave stormed the shore

a single shot went through his heart, and he

slipped lifeless to the sand. Not one man saw

him die, so busied they with lying hid

and crawling on, yet all men felt the breath

of leaden wings come close, and when they did,

it made his passing seem a public death.

So much for Jones. He died as one of scores,

and on a distant beach. But when they bring

the news to those who count the cost of wars,

a private's death becomes a private thing.

How strange that war's arithmetic discounts

the spread of sorrow as the sorrow mounts!

Nonexpendable

Harold Applebaum, copyright 1943

Mourn not, Madonna, that I do not smile,

nor tease that my eyes are cold. There are days

for smiling, there are nights when the heart is old.

Here at our table there is wine and song.

Your beauty's a stunning fact. Enchanted

I sit within your glow, but I am racked

by short-wave dreams of battlegrounds

and isles where soldiers die, for on my head

is blood, and on my heart my brothers lie.

I cannot drink the wine, nor look at you,

nor hear the music's strain. I am ashamed.

Perhaps you understand. Out there in the rain

they wait for death, and you ask me to smile,

and tease that my eyes are cold. There are days

for smiling, there are nights when the heart is old.

#poetry #war #HaroldApplebaum #NewSchool

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