In thinking of what I wanted to do for Memorial Day this year, I thought of this poem. Allow me to say first and foremost that I am a human being FIRST, then an American (before Party), and finally, a progressive, critical thinking American. HOW WE SHOULD ALL BE!
It is a sad Memorial Day this year. A day gravely besmirched by the lack of action by Congressional "leaders" Mitch McConnell and Keven McCarthy in their (that is, Donald Trump's) Republican Party, by voting against a sorely necessary bipartisan investigation into the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Let's face it, the "Trump Insurrection". THIS is an American issue.
IF Republicans were in charge, IF this were a Democratic issue, IF this had been a Democratic POTUS, not Donald Trump, there'd ALREADY be a commission. There were TEN Benghazi investigations over something that wasn't as Republicans contended and they knew that, as they used it as political fodder, anyway.
When America is attacked, we investigate that attack. It's a "no brainer", really. Making the Republican's views on this, very curious.
So more than usual, this is a Memorial Day we ALL truly need to reflect on. Not just for our fallen heroes in war, but for in those in Congress who refuse to be heroes. Or actual members of our US Congress.
After 10 years of writing over 1400 blogs, I had stopped. I wrote my last blog about the last two books I published in October 2020. I wrote this some years ago and finally included it in the first sequel to my first book, in two volumes as, "Anthology of Evil II Vol. I". The second book is, "Anthology of Evil II Vol. II - The Unwritten".
This is my first blog since then. Wishing you all a reflective but safe and healthy 2021 Memorial Day.
|Maurice Ravel, 1912, musician/composer|
“The only love affair I have ever had was with music.”
Writing at the time, Ravel recalled: “For a whole week I have been driving days and nights—without lights—on unbelievable roads, often with a load double what my truck should carry. And even so I had to hurry because all this was within range of the guns. Adélaïde and I—Adélaïde is my truck—escaped the shrapnel, but the poor dear couldn’t keep going and after losing her number plate in a danger zone where parking was forbidden, in despair she shed a wheel in a forest, where I did a Robinson Crusoe for 10 days until someone came to rescue me.”
|Maurice Ravel, 1917, Ambulance Driver|
Below I have included the music of Ravel's "Bolero", actually conducted by him (it's nearly 17 minutes long).
Ravel, because of his health, like Ernest Hemingway's even more remarkable experience, was a WWI ambulance driver.
Here, we find our hero in the trenches...
Pvt. Ravel’s Bolero
In No Man’s Land, Verdun, France 10 November 1919
Moonlit dark...Verdun, France.
War Zone. Theatre of Horrors.
“No Man’s Land” rifts rival trenches.
Fog drifts over cold explorers.
Chilled steam rising off fresh corpses.
Viscous drops dripping...in silence,
Dripping into crimson black pools.
Dark shiny, bloody pools.
Mirrors that pepper dark lands that
Glower from a slivered moonlight.
Drawing down dying breath and sight.
|WWI in the Trenches|
Suddenly, one ascends
One soldier’s Hell seeking amends
In No Man’s Land, gently playing,
Chilled silver flute lilting, singing.
|Pvt. Maurice Ravel|
Pvt. Ravel misses
His ambulance truck Adélaïde.
Standing fast, one among them all
He shouts: “All Together Now!”
Meanwhile, Hemingway drives
His ambulance in Italy.
For advancing Americans.
Ignorant of Ravel’s own plight.
|WWI Ambulance & Drivers|
“Papa’s” ambulance hit!
An Austrian mortar fire blast!
Machine gunned: he carries wounded.
While Ravel bravely plays his flute.
Ravel’s song? “Bolero”,
Starting well before it begins.
Nervously, our musician spies,
His uneven enemy’s lines.
Then ever so softly,
A drummer beats his staid rhythm,
Catching up to and surpassing,
His friend waiting, now so relieved.
He plays his flute until,
Another stands near No Man’s Land.
To then follow Ravel’s brave lead,
One more flute in their darkness,
The same sad clothes hang worn,
All uniforms dirty and torn,
Each Bloody, Disgusting and Wet,
They all walk bravely playing on.
Together as one, all
Nervously eyeing enemies,
With their side, hunched in their trenches,
Watching dumb, all incredulous.
Suddenly then, one more!
Slowly standing, instrument high,
Another: “Enemy” soldier!
Approaches their shared No Man’s Land.
He joins in their playing,
Music swelling louder in time,
In tempo, In volume. On “stage”.
Their musical bonding expands.
As their song progresses,
Again and again, another
Intermittently, from both sides,
Plays their song, along with Ravel.
And then, even the dead,
Play the climax, together stand,
This great full orchestra of Men,
Standing among their No Man’s Land.
One soldier aside them,
Walks along his filthy trenches,
Anger brewing, rifle in hand,
Finds, “The Spot”, for his final shot.
Yet still the band plays on,
Till finally they finished strong,
With an echoing crescendo,
Ravel’s ascent and fairest Air.
Then it’s over. And yet…
Fearfully they stop, suspended.
Feeling an old, new thing, again.
Strange among them: Humanity?
Their confidence bursting!
A camaraderie brimming!
Believing for one proud moment,
Human! A Person once again!
Both sides lined the trenches,
Carefully watching, listening,
Slowly, they begin applauding.
One at a time. Two at a time.
Applauding until it is a
Growing cacophony, rising
Above them to its crescendo
Thicker, sweeter, now not Ravel’s.
It is this time though, quite
Not music. As one at a time,
All the players slowly melting
Into the fog, into the ground.
Fading into darkness.
Until only silence remains.
Save one, the one who started it.
For himself, and yet for them all.
Realizing all at once,
He is quite alone and shouldn’t
Have been quite so much enjoying,
Not, quite so much, their reverie.
He too then melts back down,
To disappear. Leaving merely
Silence in the loss of what was.
What could have been. For what might be.
That last soldier rises.
Reappears and clambers over,
The berm back into his own trench.
Enemy...taking careful aim.
His fellows, horrified.
Aiming just where he wants to strike.
Over at, “That dark cold bastard.”
The Enemy. The Other Side.
His Officer leans down.
Slaps him hard in his sallow head
Unsettling such careful aiming,
Fouling so, his sullen black mood.
He misses! Blind Anger!
Turning upon his Officer.
This Officer, this man who eyes
Him deeply back. Intensely so.
Then he looks around him.
All angry red eyes upon HIM.
Carefully, he puts down his gun.
Relinquishing his anger...cold.
Only then do they all,
Return sad about their business.
Shitting, drinking, staring, dying,
sleeping, cooking. Fear, in the dark.
No Man’s Land again lies,
Fallow, silent, wet. Except for
Sounds of still darkly, dripping pools,
Mirroring their reality.
There now is but a stout
Difference. A lightness where the
Sounds and attitudes in both trench.
Lines, lie still, humble in Silence.
For Humanity to
Continue, to cope. Yet again,
To feel alive once more with these
Others, these Brothers. Lifelong Friends.
|WWI Soldiers' Graves|
Continuing to cope.
Once again, Humanity. Hope!
Ravel’s alternate ending to:
His No Man’s Land, in Verdun, France.
10 November, 1919.
|Maurice Ravel, conducting "Bolero" in 1923|