Friday, March 28, 2008

Visit to the Veteran's Hospital: San Francisco

Just last year a friend from Church passed away at the Veteran's Hospital in San Francisco. I wrote this poem some years ago, after visiting "Fort Miley", San Francisco and seeing the sketches of soldiers on one hallway wall--in black ink by artists. I wanted to do something, too. So this poem which was originally workshopped on The Atlantic Monthly Writer's Workshop, which is no longer extant. That was around 2000.

I Visited the Veteran's Hospital Today, Oh Boy...
by Peter Menkin

The fog sits and lives by the City
Where men with their sketches made
by nursing friends to strangers, linger
on the walls and in the memories.

Anonymous lessons of Caesar campaigns,
and American victories of elegant tours,
in journeys from many armies
are adorned by men with injuries tended.

This on the caverns and hallways
punctuated by building clinic,
hospital, Nursing Home, Ambulatory Center
for Veterans in San Francisco by the Pacific.

Limbs, lives, bodies nurtured with
desparite routine in diversity,
of legions in regular staff to
administer the chapel of balm to war injured.

Oh, boy, I saw the men today
and the women when visiting
the line at the Veteran's Hospital, Oh Boy.
I heard the news today, saw the results.

Care and treatment offered:
Tender mercies given with discipline,
received with gratitude, politics,
and golden hearts with purple glory
in sketches of lines of color in living faces.
A kind of memorial to wounded.

These, Oh, Boy, I read the news today
of American faces mingling comraderies
in wounded attention, ministrations of,
Oh, Boy, the agony was apparent in the quiet.

The fog rolls through the Golden Gate
in the City where the houses in their
colored array sit cheek to jowl; the men
talk of Senators and Officers, wait for prosthetics.

Oh, Boy, there is God who is around
the corner, down the hall. I read
the news today in the vastness
and hub bub to display a sketch of tenderness.

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