"The Battle of Olustee"
A hundred-twenty winter rains
Have bathed these placid pine tree plains,
Yet deep below this sand and mud,
bedrock here is human blood.
Far from home and far from grace,
Duty brought them face to face,
brothers poised in wait
To perpetrate the cruelest fate.
The Hartford Seventh, the U.S. Eighth
guts and pride and faith,
But Georgia gunners seldom missed,
And soon the Eighth did not exist.
fell the wounded crept
To Barber's Station as God wept
With full-moon rays carressing cheeks
Of moaning men too
weak to speak.
The winters now,as then, are cold.
The trees are young, the soil is old.
And grief is sacred,
The pain remains; the hate forgot.
Five hundred paces west,
Dead across this dewy morning pasture grass,
Five thousand faces rest
Facing us, this
shaken, ill-armed motley mass.
Five hundred bloody years
Passed before have never settled but one thing.
thousand muddy tears
Shed for naught, but for another would-be king!
Five hundred desperate blows
a hundred wretched foreign souls.
Five thousand rested foes
Counter us, then stack our corpses flat as coals.
Five hundred seasons passed,
Yet remains the palor of this graven stench.
Five thousand reasons last
fight--but duty is a jealous wench!
"We Were Soldiers"
We were soldiers once, and young.
We asked not for this fate, nor questioned why,
We were sent to fight, and die,
In jungled canopies that blocked the sun.
We were good sons once, and brave.
We charged our enemies who shared our fate,
Fueled by duty's call, not hate,
Creating corpses cold, that none could save.
We were lovers long ago,
With wives and fiances who waited here,
Shrouded in a cloud, of fear,
Afraid to understand what we must know.
We were brothers then, in arms,
And brothers now, without our lives and limbs,
Bound by pain that never dims,
Siblings of a memory that haunts and harms.
We are fathers now, and old,
Reflecting on the fates of our own sons:
God make us, not them, the ones,
To bear this cross, for we're already cold.