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Memorial Day
Richard Greene

Hopewell, New Jersey, May 2005

It was enough to make us weep,
half a dozen veterans of the last great war
looking like fading away,
followed by the high school band,
booming bravely into adulthood.
Next a squad in Civil War uniform,
harking back to the source of the holiday,
a fratricide that seems today
to have occurred in another country,
not just another century.
A retired Humvee
with a small girl in back
wearing a grunt-style cap
and waving mechanically;  
vintage cars,
big ones from a century ago
with wooden spokes
and other vestiges of their carriage genes,
still boxy ones from the '20s,
the streamlined '30s,
the fishtailed '50s,
a couple of Mustangs, an early Corvette;
then the fire engines, big and bigger,
like armor-plated rhinos,
our town’s brigade riding old-fashioned red,
others yellow,
sage green from a well-heeled town nearby;
delegations of Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies,
one Scout troop with a five-piece band
trying like twenty-five;
a motorcycle club,
plenty of paunch and gray hair,
and, though some ponytails,
suburban angels rather than Hell's.
Finally, a platoon of kids
all safely helmeted,
one tireless on a pogo stick,
others on scooters and bikes
and even a few on tricycles,
training for future wars.

© by Richard Greene.
Used with the author’s permission.


Richard Greene began writing poetry in the 8th grade, inspired by the opening lines of Longfellow's “Evangeline”—“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks / Bearded in moss and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight"—which he was required to read in class. In college, after a classmate deemed Richard’s rhyming poem “trite,” he stopped writing until, a couple of years later, a class with Henry Rago, subsequently editor of Poetry magazine, inspired him to resume his efforts. But poetry fell by the wayside for almost forty years as a busy career in international development consumed his life. As retirement approached, however, Richard’s dedication to poetry returned; he has since published three chapbooks: The Broken Guitar: Poems of War; Becoming Old: Poems of Aging; Painting with Words: Landscapes in Verse; and one full -length collection, To Talk of Many Things: Selected Poems. Richard, who lives in Nyack, New York, shares a "poem of the week" with anyone interested; get on his mailing list by requesting it at



Post New Comment:
lively images - I like the line "booming bravely into adulthood" - learned a new fact, that cars once had wooden spokes - interesting that in 2005 we thought of a fratricide as from another country - how sad how fast we've come so far...
Posted 05/30/2022 02:35 PM
I like the short line others yellow,as it reverberates with the real world, where fire trucks arent all red.
Posted 05/30/2022 12:49 PM
Lori Levy:
The parade really comes alive in this poem.
Posted 05/30/2022 12:27 PM
Good poem!!!I once knew a man with a bucket named Sebastian who owned the 'Squat and Gobble' restaurant in Bluffton, SC and always threw candy on the Christmas parade instead of the other way around!!!
Posted 05/30/2022 10:10 AM
Just like the parades I used to know, Richard!
Posted 05/30/2022 08:55 AM
Makes me see and feel and smell all the crepe paper flowers and streamers we wove into the spokes of our bikes -for the short little parade that stopped on the bridge over the Carrabasett River in North Anson Maine. Then it was off to the cemetery with baskets of lilacs for all our fallen soldiers.
Posted 05/30/2022 08:27 AM
Well worth getting on his mailing list. Richard's poems have a way of touching deeply.
Posted 05/30/2022 08:09 AM
Larry Schug:
A salute to all fellow veterans today.
Posted 05/30/2022 06:55 AM

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