Category Archives: Memory

Bone White

Chattanooga National Military Cemetery

Chattanooga National Military Cemetery

Atop the knoll where cannons keep
a watch for those here lain,
I cast my eyes ‘cross this expanse
of hills where once stood grain.

In aging testimony,
this hallowed ground is turned bone white,
an endless sea of crosses roll
through oaks and summer’s light.

A gentle whisper calls a tune
in timeless, ageless memories,
thus stirs the oak and ash to grant
a moment’s cooling breeze.

The summer’s heat peaks weariness
across my furrowed brow,
yet begs I cross the distance
to feel the hearts around me, now.

To count the rows and call the names
through every battle fought,
to share the living knowledge gained
these wounded hearts have wrought.

Bone white and worn, fading names,
others only numbered souls
lost to season’s secret,
held here ‘tween the oaks and knolls.

‘Tis sad, this lengthened journey,
when reach the distant rows,
many hearts and souls here,
many that I feel I’d know
if only for this fleeting glance
between these steps of mine,
graced to sense their wounded hearts,
touched but for a moment’s time.

Contoured to this hallowed ground
across this rolling distance,
blessed in blood through those who gave,
these crosses bear true witness
that gratitude and honor
are distilled from hearts that fell in fight.
To them this simple blessing,
“God bless these souls beneath bone white”.


Filed under History, Memory, Perspective, Photography, Poetry

Family Memory – a Prayer

How quiet is the lonely wood
where ‘midst these markers lay –
How lonely are the steps between
the graves of those I walk today –
How peaceful is the summer corn
around this church’s graveyard stands.
How steadfast this emotion seems
When pen’d from living hands –

At rest and peace I find thee,
silent ‘neath the clustered trees –
With truth and love I bless thee,
while praying from my knees!


Filed under Family, History, Memory, Poetry

Our Union’s Echo

Dust upon the mantle, deep,
as tones of aching somber hold
the lengthened shadows across the room
to rend the wooden floor to gold.

So worn by every footstep lain
two hundred years could keep,
that grain and pitch and nail combine
in melding, fast asleep.

The air in musk of history
traps my thoughts in what I dream,
and there a conjured memory begs
from Civil War, a scene…
where just beyond the garden gate,
men in grey meet men in blue,
on horseback speak in earnest terms,
then off to leave just standing, two.
I hear a somber canon –
I smell the lilacs full in bloom –
I feel the rose of a lover’s blush,
then find me quiet, here in this room.

The window sash is splintered,
through the frame, the garden gone.
The picket fence in broken angles
casts pickup sticks in shadows long.

I move toward the porch to feel
the southern summer’s setting hush,
and o’er the field before me
sense the rolling guns and troops in rush.
The odor is of powder –
The sounds are pain and desperate cries –
I feel the courage and the anguish
that counted gone so many lives.

A blue jay calls my balance back
to lonely porch and battlefield
where ne’er a plow has broken soil
since when its fate by blood was sealed.

Cicadas welcome home the dusk
to sweetly calm the souls here lain,
and I a nod of hope for them,
and one long tear pulled from the pain,
now etched into my fabric –
now carved in stone upon my soul –
that I recall their history,
their sacrifice, their echo to a union whole.


Filed under History, Memory, Perspective, Poetry, Universal Soul


Such soul exposed through smiling eyes,
such depth of love to feel,
draws the heart to knowing that
in God we’re one, we’re real.

Tied to common ether,
bound to common cause,
yet separate paths do guide us,
that through our steps we pause –
grow ego to our selfish state,
refuse to hear the core’s return,
live a life of striving
that not till late we learn
that we are but universal,
spirits in the flesh,
our lives are just transversal
arcs of what we’re meant to learn and catch.

Yet eyes are tied to soulful depths
where truth of what we are is shown,
thus, to us and then from us,
it is our love that’s known.

I see the world around me,
I smile in sweet relief,
that knowing who these souls are
brings my eyes to sparkle deep.

I feel their energy take me,
as I capture fleeting thoughts
of my brother’s eyes and kindest smile
as if by him I’m taught.
I reflect then on my mother
and her loving eyes and caring,
till moved, I feel I must do more,
more I should be sharing
with those who need it most,
with those who long for kindest eyes,
and so reflect from both of them
in smiles to my passersby.


Filed under Family, Memory, Perpective, Poetry

Summer’s Slow Reprise

Enraptured in this summer’s slow
I walk the neighborhood’s quiet streets,
as all the subtle sights I know
stand poised where sun and dusk do meet.

The work day’s done, yet daylight clings,
but denies a shadow with dusk in sight,
holds time in quiet gratitude
and grants the gift of a summer’s night.

The air is still, the streets lay quiet,
my footsteps slow and measured,
sweet scent of lawns just cut and trimmed
enhance this moment’s treasure.

Children in the park fulfill
their dreams through baseball’s pastime,
while sprinklers on the schoolyard grounds
set the rhythm of this rhyme.

A dog’s bark echoes through this mix
of summer’s fullest ether,
as all these moments conspire to this,
a summer’s slow still sweeter.

As I walk the sidewalk cracks,
my memory carries me to summers past,
where at this moment Mom would call
and I’d run home to plead a last
few minutes time to run and play,
to feel the summer’s dusk roll in,
to laugh with friends until the night
had called us all to home again.

I recall my Uncle’s ancient house
on ancient narrow streets,
where it seemed all time stood still
at this summer’s slow stretched through the heat
and through the call of katydids
on streets named Maple, Elm and Oak –
with Dad and him on the steps I’d sit
while they drew it in through cigar smoke.

This summer’s slow brings gratitude
for days and years and life gone by,
and blesses quiet solitude
in a simple walk and opened eye –

so grants me gifts I can’t deny,
in a magic I give thanks for.


Filed under Family, Memory, Perpective, Poetry, Universal Soul

Behind This Broken Wall

Behind this broken wall I stand,
breathing deep, M1 in hand
with bullets whizzing by,
plaster forced to dancing high.
Here am I bound to reclaim this land.

Between the beats of heart I reel
in memory grasped and how I’d feel
to touch her hand in mine,
to feel her eyes on mine…
Then mortar blasts! My mind to steel!

“Move! Move!”, I heard the cry,
instinctually crouching, did truly fly
across the open alley.
The “thud”, the scream, the endless tally
grows, at hedge I turn to watch him die.

Some of us are lucky, blessed,
never found beneath the mess
of surging blood and pain,
feeling life so slowly drained,
and yet our fortunes’ only guessed.

Again I’m caught, as mortars fall,
and voices shouting, chopped, they call
the only words I know,
“raus” – get out! I’ve got to go,
as a glimpse of three I catch, quite tall.

I wonder if their nightmare’s mine.
I fight to push them cross the line
of being living men,
is it me or is it them?
I stand and fire three shots, they’re fine

and lie there in the winter’s mud,
as again I run against the thuds
of shelling in the town,
in heartache I could drown
to broken doorway with all my blood.

Intact, I can’t recall the flash
of steps and shots through seconds passed.
I hear the echoed boom,
and fear the shaking gloom,
so pray that this might end at last.

Behind this broken wall I stand,
pain of what I do in hand,
until the silence breaks
and kindly, quietly takes
my hopes in peace to end this stand.

Sarge calls, “fall out, it’s clear!”,
so softly step through rubble here,
to streets so choked
with death and smoke
and so it seems I’ve killed my fear.

I stand at broken corner, found
silenced by the squeaking sound
of only rolling tanks.
In silence I give silent thanks
and step beyond this killing ground.

This bloodied morning, grey in mist,
decries humility, despair left kissed
for those today we’ve lost
in honor at great cost,
these men we’ve loved and sorely miss.

Behind this broken wall I stand,
my truth and life in hand…

In honor of the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team – WWII

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My Stone Wall

Smooth and mixed, the stones betray
the purpose of each course I laid,
that mortar’s strength to hold them fast
denies my hope to see them last
in square to where each one I stayed.

Mortar cracked and crumbled clings
to stones once plucked from mountain streams,
each in purpose so selected,
that as my work neared done, reflected
the lane to which my heart would sing.

Years that dressed my lane to home
witnessed living thrusts since gone,
captured echoes of a purpose,
pushed from God to here, to surface
what this life and soul has known…

Triumph in a child’s eye.
Approving nod of passersby.
Winter nights in season’s mirth.
Awe and bliss in children’s births.
Fractured heart when stress had won.
Undoing of a wayward son.
Broken stride in parent’s deaths.
Splintered family and such regrets.
Falling from the strength to cope,
when whispers came in certain hope,
as lives careened between the walls
and hands repaired the fists in halls,
when tragedy begged into the room
to paint the road in front with gloom,
as fast this last hand grasped for life,
witnessed strength to break with strife.
Saw the hope that changed this heart.
Saw what fed and fueled the parts
of broken paths and shaken schemes.
Saw such love fold into dreams
and grant a smiling eye …
and all the years gone by…

My lane in stone wall’s soft repose
extends a peace that no one knows, but I.
It’s stoic stance is earned so well,
tho’ cracked and stained, not one stone fell,
that now in quiet solitude
has earned my histories gratitude,
and assuring nods from passersby.

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Filed under Family, History, Memory, Poetry, Universal Soul

Teardrop’s Honor

What teardrop’s lines in honor hold
are more than I can bear,
when witnessed in the eyes of mother’s
weeping through such deep despair.

For them my heart is broken,
for them I give my deepest prayer.
No word or act or motion
can begin to mend the rending there
that claws at love innate,
love born in womb and born of soul
of mothers whose sweet loves, now gone,
shudder every moment on
and shake in disbelief,
fall in heaps of deepest grief
when every moment, every sight
denies their hope, denies their right,
befriends an aching heart to cope,
yet only echoes pain –
of last words spoken, last hug and kiss,
last kindest little token
granted from sweet childhood’s bliss.

Such rage confounds my spirit,
no line of thought can bring the “why”.
I seek for resolution, so absurd,
yet still I try –

What blackness fills this world now?
What mantra does such evil chant?
What sickened heart has found this world?
What soulless evil does it incant?

“Fear not!”, I try to cling to,
as in prayer and in action seek
to persuade a better world around me,
influence hope and love to keep –
Defeat the sickened “ick” of hate,
replace it with the kindest words
that echo only caring,
thus give to life what life deserves –
No senseless tears upon a mother’s cheek…

In reflection of the Newtown, Connecticut Tragedy – 14-Dec-2012

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Filed under Memory, Poetry

Brooks 23

The day, in somber grey, yet clear and cold, a January gift, forms a shadowed curtain of question, of what’s uncertain around me and those now standing here. Cold winter’s breeze, broken sun and sienna shadows – coats and scarves and dresses blow, flapping black, midst watery eyes and reddened noses. They wait… we wait… to humbly let us in, by our own stiffened procession, past memory cards, photos, guest register and pen.

In the distance beyond the foyer, his image pronounced largely midst flowers, lights and the wall, past the glass curtain set there. So many, so full, yet behind me the line is eternal, of those here to pay their respect, to trade a sorrowful heart for a memory, trade to hope from regret.
I wonder if I’ve grown calloused, my emotions are real and on my sleeve, but this pain is nothing new to me. So many I’ve given back, so many, so close…

Yet in this crowd of caring souls I see the faces of children I know, now grown, now boldly standing in their own paths – young adults bound here, for this moment, this January afternoon, as one. I see Seth and Alex and Gabe and Chris and Matt and so many more… and Ben… I recall them young, unaware, unafraid, children with a safe home calling – warm, quiet, confident home… Yet today – they stand as men… together and yet alone. Each on their path, seeing the world from their own eyes, through their own life’s experiences. Together, facing a reality none ever expected they’d share. Their faces are long and somber – their youth denies them their age, and moments turn to eons before my eyes – they all look so tired, so old. In these expressions I see their pain, only relieved by the stories of memories shared… of the one now gone… laughter, tears, gasps and grappling for strength to pull them forward… they each see this from different eyes – yet all the same – collectively, as something more beautiful than the whole – it’s love I see – for each other, for life, for what they’ve lost, for the trials, the triumphs, the lessons learned from mistakes – but mostly for the hope that they share, a better strength and hope for tomorrow…

… names are called, and answered in roll… standing one by one, … but one … “Benjamin Scott Brooksmith”… again … again … The momentary silence between the calling crushes my will to endure and the tears come – and like a heaven sent thunder, bagpipes begin… “Amazing Grace” pounds like the beat of a heart in despair… The young men stand there, endure their own grief… some wavering, some grasping to stand steady, some with head hung long, and some tall and accepting… The pipes end and I feel weightless, off the cliff and over the edge – it is done…

We gathered to remember, to share our grief, to find consolation for our souls, to seek an understanding…

We found the strong echoes of love!

I found these children grown, baptized by life, confirmed in peace, and set free as a generation.
The cold day hasn’t changed outside… January sun betrayed by her bitter wind. Hugs and whispers… tears toward the door…

The walk back to my truck is empty – carved hollow by the blank echoes of footsteps – retracting to the fabric of life… moving on in time without choice. The moments have come and gone – only memories remain… … as I drive, it seems that all the world is empty and everyone I see grieves with me, and understands – The music playing seems to speak to my aching heart, my vision of those young faces… every lyric seems pointed in meaning – and the voice there dips in and out of the voices of my long passed brothers, father, mother…

.. the day is grey with January sun and cold… I fell tired, I feel old…

God bless them all –

God bless Ben.

J. Blue – 25-Jan-2010

In loving memory – 3 years later – the young men and women I know, have all risen to the calling of each of their lives, although two more left their midst in that time. I’m proud of them all. Love them all dearly.
J. Blue – 20-Jan-2013

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At times I stand in driest wonder,
reflect my emptied echo, vast,
toward rings of smoke left in yesterday,
through ghosts of aging questions, past…
Nothing comes, there, in return,
as if absorbed by temporal thieves.
Yet I look and listen with great intent…
just the slightest stir, fractal’d relief…
Yet dry the distance remains.

I know the shapes in shadows there,
jagged corners my fault has lain,
removed the hope of kind return
by edifice, and scream proclaimed
to sap all sweet intention,
to fold all open hearts to close.
Yet still, I look in wonder, listen
hard for slightest echoed throws…
My edgy calling marked insane.

So I turn to face the light
of tomorrow’s hopeful sun.
Nothing known of the road ahead,
yet such is where my truth must run.
With deep regret and welling eye,
reach back to close the door on past,
yet cannot help to whisper,
one more echo there to cast…
“I have loved you truly,
forever will you hold a part
of all that is known good in me,
you’re here eternal, in my heart…
I miss you…”

As the door progresses,
to close its steely threshold down,
in creeks and moans of hinges motions,
my breaking heart fears, not a sound
Into the light of a new road’s hope,
I know, at times my soul must cope
with whispers where an echo played,
for in tomorrow’s winds reflection
might come, “ I miss you…”,
might come a stray
and simple sounding of what my past had been,
and in it you, with memories kind…
lost love and dearest friend…


Filed under Memory, Poetry