This poem starts with the Hebrew words for left (Smol) and right (Yameen). In the Israeli army, they are loudly called out during a cadence march. The poem then moves to the very different environment of a Zendo in NYC. Years later these words came back to me during walking meditation, creating a disorienting sense of unreality, even astonishment at this new setting. What does it mean for a soldier to find himself in this still, serene environment? Is it not mere pretense to walk with such beatific air? As a gay young man, I did not see my fellow platoon members as brothers in arms. I saw aggression and pride in their new-found power, exemplified by the M-16 in their hands. They would most likely have laughed at this new group I’ve assimilated myself into, walking with the foolish idea that slow steps and a soft gaze can bring us to enlightenment. Is it possible for me now to let go of my boots and helmet when these Hebrew words assert themselves at every step I take?
We present in this section a collection of poetical contributions that explore the topic of the close encounter in war.
Peter Yeomans: Two Poems (June 4, 2021)
Scott Casey: You died today (May 4, 2021)
Kate Dahlstedt: Sentry (April 21, 2021)
Humberto Ak’abal: Selected poems from In the Courtyard of the Moon (Tia Chucha Press, 2021) (March 26, 2021)
Edward Tick: The Emotions after War in Viet Nam. Poetry from my Reconciliation and Healing Journeys (March 17, 2021)
Yoav Ben Yosef: Smol Yameen (March 9, 2021)
Trần Đình Song: Dòng suối quê hương (The Streams of Our Native Land) (February 22, 2021)
Charles “Sandy” Scull and Brent “Mac” MacKinnon: Selected poetry and prose by Sandy Scull and Brent MacKinnon from the volume Agent Orange Roundup. Living with a Foot in Two Worlds (Bookstand Publishing, 2020) (December 27, 2020)
Edward Tick: Selected poetry and prose by Edward Tick (December 27, 2020)