Thursday, November 11, 2021

Special Feature: Selected Poppies Poems for Remembrance Day

                                                                                                at the edge
                                                                                                of his childhood river
                                                                                                face to to face 
                                                                                                with a heron on one leg ...
                                                                                                armless Afghan War veteran

Today is Remembrance Day, and the Remembrance Day symbolism of the poppy began with a poem written by a World War I brigade surgeon, Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, who was struck by the sight of the red flowers growing on a ravaged battlefield. 

"In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

The poppy symbol made its first appearance in 1921, and this year, 2021, marks the 100th anniversary of the poppy campaign to support war veterans. To reflect on this historically significant and sociopolitically critical Remembrance Day. I would like to encourage each of you to take time to rethink the politics of war memory and commemoration through the poppies poems selected below:

Selected Poems:

                 a poppy ...
          a field of poppies!
the hills blowing with poppies!

Michael McClintock

the call that says
he’s gone ...
two petals left
on the last poppy

Kirsten Cliff Elliot

poppies bloom
among the rows of crosses
a fleeting cloud

Chen-ou Liu

watercolor poppies
blowing across the field . . .
is it so hard
to learn from history

Rebecca Drouilhet

           & again
           & again
the open fields & the sky

A A Marcoff

To conclude today's Remembrance Day Special feature post, I would like to share with you my thematically different and emotionally and politically challenging white poppy poem:

Collateral Damage
for Susan Sontag

white poppy
pinned to her son's first suit
Remembrance Day

Inside the top drawer of her husband's wooden desk, there is an old photo album. It starts with pictures of toy trucks, toy soldiers, toy tanks, and other delights of boys from the neighborhood playing in the sunlight. It ends with the picture of a new military cemetery with a row of white crosses in winter mist.

Note: First introduced by British pacifists in 1926, the white poppy is used as a symbol of peace and worn as an alternative to (or complement to) the red poppy for Remembrance Day.


1 comment:

  1. FYI: The "costs of the Afghanistan war[America's longest and most expensive war], in lives and dollars" by Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press, August 17, accessed at


    American service members killed in Afghanistan through April: 2,448.

    U.S. contractors: 3,846.

    Afghan national military and police: 66,000.

    Other allied service members, including from other NATO member states: 1,144.

    Afghan civilians: 47,245.

    Taliban and other opposition fighters: 51,191.

    Aid workers: 444.

    Journalists: 72.

    2021: 1.


    Amount President Harry Truman temporarily raised top tax rates to pay for Korean War: 92%.

    Amount President Lyndon Johnson temporarily raised top tax rates to pay for Vietnam War: 77%.

    Amount President George W. Bush cut tax rates for the wealthiest, rather than raise them, at outset of Afghanistan and Iraq wars: At least 8%.

    Estimated amount of direct Afghanistan and Iraq war costs that the United States has debt-financed as of 2020: $2 trillion.

    Estimated interest costs by 2050: Up to $6.5 trillion.


    Amount Bilmes estimates the United States has committed to pay in health care, disability, burial and other costs for roughly 4 million Afghanistan and Iraq veterans: more than $2 trillion.

    Period those costs will peak: after 2048.