Ninety-four years ago tomorrow, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the armistice ending hostilities on the Western Front of World War I went into effect. Although legal documents declaring the armistice were signed in a French train car at 5:10 a.m that same day, there were, between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m., nearly 10,944 casualties. Of these, 2,738 soldiers died.
All of the commanders and many of the soldiers knew of the scheduled ceasefire. Still, troops were ordered into battle (especially, it seems, on the Allied Side) until literally the last minute, with the last Allied casualty, an American, Henry Gunther, killed at 10:59 while charging astonished German soldiers.
How, after the planned ceasefire was already announced, could generals keep sending their troops to their deaths?
It’s a complex story (and, frankly, it’s clear that some generals showed a terrible disregard for the lives of individual soldiers.) But World War I had gone on for years; millions had died. Some commanders simply could not believe that any truce would hold and wanted to better position their troops. And they were furious. Even as the whole world was exhausted.
Truces are difficult. As dearly as peace is desired, it is hard to let go of hostilities. This is not only true on the military level and, as we are all acutely aware in the U.S., on the political level, but also on the personal level. At least for me, Manicddaily, a/k/a Karin Gustafson. I’m the kind of person who often insists on being right rather than happy, on making my point rather than making peace.
Which, Poets, brings me, to today’s Poetics prompt!
Consider ‘truce’, ‘armistice’, ‘making peace’ in whatever form or with regard to whatever battle you wish.
Then write a poem. It can, if you like, be about an end to war, that frisson you get whenever you see that wonderful World War II Eisenstaedt photo of the sailor on VJ day wholly kissing a passing nurse in Times Square.
But it can also be something lighter – your making peace with your straight hair, your frizzy hair, your complete absence of hair.
Or that understanding you finally found with your neighbor when he brought back your phillips head screwdriver and you stopped screwing his _____________. (You fill in the blank).
That Christmas you realized that your folks were too old/deaf/wounded to ever make right all those things that felt wrong as a child.
Or it can be about someone else’s battles; someone else’s truce.
Take the topic where you will. The only rule: that, in writing your poem, you take no prisoners. (Which means, for those not familiar with the expression, that you try to give it your all.)
So, for any one new, Welcome! And here’s the drill:
*Link in your truce/armistice/making peace/still battling poem – (1 per blog, please)– by clicking on the Mr.Linky button just below and cutting and pasting in your link.
*Don’t forget to let your readers know where you’re linking up and encourage them to participate by including a link to dVerse in your blog post.
*Visit as many other poems as you like, commenting as you see fit. Remember that making a strong and dVerse community is just a great way to make peace! When you read someone’s poetry, you can’t help but see them as a real person.
*Spread the word. Feel free to tweet and share on the social media of your choice.
* Have fun!
For further inspiration or just interest – here are some sites about Armistice Day (now called Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in the UK), Wasted Lives on Armistice Day, a chilling World War I poem by one of my favorite poets, the British Wilfred Owen who was killed just one week before Armistice Day, and a Denise Levertov poem called Making Peace that calls for poets to give an “imagination of peace.” (But please do not to feel limited to writing about actual war with this prompt.)