Leatherneck, you’re still my childhood hero
With tales of firing flack at Jap Zeroes—
After training camp in San Diego,
You rode the railway home on furlough
To elope with Rita in the Poconos.
The coalmine cars filled up with snow.
You only had a month before you had to go
To Saipan.  You learned to translate Navajo
So Japs couldn’t tap your radio.
There’s so much about you I’ll never know—
On Saipan’s beach, your body decomposed.
Every June, I plant another rose;
But something makes it die.  It never grows.
It cannot put down roots, I suppose.

 

Robert Piazza studied literature and creative writing at Boston College and the Bread Loaf School of English where he served on the editorial board of Stylus and won Honorable Mention in the 2004 Robert Haiduke Poetry Prize, respectively.  One of his poems appears in the Spring 2017 Issue of Lyric magazine, and another poem is now published in Haiku Journal, Issue 56.  Two more poems are currently accepted for preliminary consideration by Time of Singing: A Journal of Christian Poetry.  An accomplished guitarist and outdoors enthusiast, he has been teaching English at private schools for twenty-four years. Currently he lives in rural Northwest Connecticut with his wife and two teenaged children.

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20 Responses

  1. E. V. "Beth" Wyler

    “Soldier’s Son” honors your “childhood hero”. May he rest in peace. Thank you for sharing this great poem with us.

    Reply
  2. Ed "Bear" C. U. Lewis

    Reminiscent of mid-20th century poet Randall Jarrell’s poetry, Mr. Piazza’s sonnet “Soldier’s Son,” is a lively rendition, partially because of its freewheeling metric. He opens with a trochaic pentametre, and continues with metric “violations” throughout, actually not unlike many writers @ SCP. But his poem strikes with more force. Part of the power of his sonnet comes from its topic, the singularity of the rhymes, the clipped metre, the crisp sentences, the refreshing diction, and the matter-of-fact tone. Notice also Mr. Piazza’s roses differ markedly from Mr. Gosselin’s rose.

    Reply
    • Robert Piazza

      I am humbled & honored by your reference to Randall Jarrell, one of my top-10 favorite poets of all time. In my opinion, his poem “Death of the Ball-Turret Gunner” is the most powerful WWII poem ever written. I have read & taught Jarrell’s poem dozens of times, and it continues to grip me.

      Reply
      • SARAHLEAH HANKES

        This poem is SOOOO moving. It made me cry. I cannot remember when ANY poem in my long life has ever evoked this kind of emotional response. I was alive during world war two. My favorite uncle Frank died in it. This is a bitter sweet reminder of the loves lost and the hero’s welcomed home.

  3. Maryann Elizabeth Tate

    Poignant and expressive prose. So enjoyed reading this.

    Reply
  4. Roberta Patten

    Every line brought back WWII to me. I loved the fact that it brought back my childhood feelings growing up with many family members serving in both the Atlantic and the Pacific theaters of that war. It was a bittersweet memory. Thank you Rob.

    Reply
    • SARAHLEAH HANKES

      This poem is SOOOO moving. It made me cry. I cannot remember when ANY poem in my long life has ever evoked this kind of emotional response. I was alive during world war two. My favorite uncle Frank died in it. This is a bitter sweet reminder of the loves lost and the hero’s welcomed home.

      Reply
  5. David Nee

    Congratulations, Rob Piazza. A highly evocative gen, with an abrupt shift at the end.

    Reply
  6. Joel

    A beautiful poem that moves through time in clear, direct, moving language and ends with an question.

    Reply
  7. Tony Sherer

    Robert is clearly a powerful emerging voice in American verse. If you haven’t read is other stuff, do so. We will be hearing a lot more from this guy.

    Reply
  8. Sari

    Chilling with incredible depth. I could feel the joy, hope and sadness throughout the reflection. The last line about the inability of the flowers to prosper and thrive is a quite profound given the nature of this piece.

    Reply
  9. Alexander Neuschotz

    I love the parralel between the short life of the soldier and that of the Rose, both admired in their prime, but soon “decomposed.”

    Reply
    • Robert Piazza

      Thank you for your insightful interpretation. I really appreciate your feedback!

      Reply
  10. Ken S.

    Congratulations Rob on the publication of such a moving tribute to the WW II soldiers who did not make it home. The stark contrast between the image of the young soldier with his new bride in the Poconos and his decomposed body on a beach in Saipan evoked raw emotion as I read it. Having just recently lost my father, a WWII veteran, I could not help but be grateful he made it home. Thank you for sharing your gift Rob!

    Reply

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