Poetry: Victims of Other Wars


Victims of Other Wars

On the way to your dinner, you pass the graveyard.
Flags and flowers dot the headstones,
splashes of color against the washed out marble.
It is Memorial day,
fraught with gratitude and sadness.

Later in the day, there will be parades.
Bands and banners will flutter in the wind.
The apostle’s word echoes, “no greater love”.
You park the car and sit for a moment.
The air has a hint of coolness,
a brief mourning for strangers
who loved as they fought.

You drive on, your mind full of victims
of other wars.
The trauma of their broken lives,
abuse in all its forms. You are surrounded by it.
Broken children in grey-haired bodies
Broken children touched and tortured like ragdolls,
and discarded to find their healing

There will be no parades for them.
Their quest for love seeping pain,
unable to live, wounded in secret,
Left to heal in secret, they live and die
in unmarked graves,
even as they live and breath and cry.

About this poem

The apostle in the poem is John, the author of the gospel and the book of Revelation. It reads “Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for those he loves.” In my mind that is the story of Memorial Day.

There are other wars than the ones we give names. My life the past ten years has exposed me to more and more broken people, broken by every kind of abuse imaginable. A secret war, with more victims than we know.

Be kind.



  1. You are so right, Tom. It is appalling what people do to each other. For such a long time I used to feel guilty that my life (as complex as it often was) was so blessed by comparison to that of the millions who suffer. I finally realized that all I can do is love my life and always be mindful of the suffering, helping in whatever small way I can.
    My anthropology professor read me pretty well and I was devastated when he told me that anthropologists would not save the world. Naively I thought it was all about people understanding each other.
    Thinking of the families of all those who did not come back. A special day for them.

  2. Very beautiful poem and we really think in our lives. Wars are traumatic and coming from an abusive family I know, I feel how circunstances, family, people can try to destry us. My sister died of depression 5 years ago, her life as a woman and a woman with dark skin was very difficult into the family and at work. We have to go to the therapy to treat ourselves, to deal with all feelings and things that happen to our lives, Very beautiful thought into the poem, Tom. Thanks :0

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