Since the attack of December 7, 1941,
oil has been seeping to the surface
spreading itself in paisley patterns
over the tidal waters of Pearl Harbor.
I watch a small circle grow and glow
with sun bright gold, and soon turn
to moonlight silver like the formal
changing of the guard at Arlington.
I watch the swirls move slowly and form
bouquets of pinks and symbolic purples
serpentine lines of grays and greens
splotches of yellow, orange, and red.
One thousand one hundred and two souls
interred in an iron tomb whisper daily
through spirit voices the costs of war
and the eternal price paid for freedom.
It is not a message of hope for me
but a warning that some day others
must also perish if what we believe
and what we cherish is to survive.
I am glad that the silent symbols spoke
to me with feral forms and current colors
but I fear that many missed the message
and my sadness is staggering.
© by C. F. Kelly.
Used here with the author’s permission.
Cornelius Farrell Kelly wrote his first poem at age 12 when he fell in love with the girl across the street and put his work in her mailbox. She showed it to all of the neighbors, and Cornelius became the poet laureate of his block. Influenced early on by the poetry of Edgar Guest, Cornelius is the author of eight chapbooks, is involved with several poetry organizations, and publishes regularly. He is also a competitive swimmer. Cornelius lives in Pinedale, Wyoming.
This is a poem that needed to be written. You wrote it well.
Posted 12/08/2015 07:56 AM
Cork, I had no idea that oil was still seeping to the surface. That line made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Thanks for this poem. Karen
Posted 12/07/2015 05:07 PM
Thank you for this moment of reflection.
The staggering sadness does mirror our reaction to what is happening in the world.
Posted 12/07/2015 02:28 PM
The first and last stanzas were especially powerful for me.
Posted 12/07/2015 02:03 PM
Posted 12/07/2015 12:10 PM
When we were at the Pearl Harbor memorial site several years ago, I was astonished to see oil still bubbling up to the surface, after what was then, at least 60 years. We were attacked; we had to respond, and we did. How that figures into anti-war sentiment I can't sort out. Inspiring to be in Australia and New Zealand and see how they honor their alliance with the U.S. during WW II.
Posted 12/07/2015 11:12 AM
Thank you for posting this poem. I felt that staggering sadness when I visited Pearl Harbor and I feel it today reading this poem
Posted 12/07/2015 09:34 AM
There is a time where we must stop and reflect so we do not 'miss the message' Thank-you for sharing this wonderful poem and Jayne, for your remarks as well. I like this 'happy place' but agree that now and then there is a time to remember, lest we forget!
Posted 12/07/2015 08:48 AM
Very appropriate both for memories and current events. Thanks for posting this and for your prefacing remarks. Bill S.
Posted 12/07/2015 08:20 AM
Posted 12/07/2015 06:39 AM
As one whose father fought in the RAN 'beside the Yanks' in New Guinea during WWII may I be forgiven a moment of blurred vision on reading this poem which brings back all those images from literature of my childhood. A day that also lives in the hearts of so many Australians of my generation. However essential may be forgiveness, my over-riding motto remains: 'Never Forget'. Thanks Jayne and Cornelius for this perfectly-pitched tribute.
Posted 12/07/2015 02:15 AM