In Memoriam: for the Unknown Soldier at Red Bank Battlefield

As the crow flies— over the Delaware River©️Merril D. Smith 2021

In Memoriam: for the Unknown Soldiers at Red Bank Battlefield

is a broad river expanse
where time ripples and bends
under a laden, leaded sky

the morning moon, her song a sigh
floats on heron’s wings to flutter
by the gulls and geese,
who wonder what and why.

Now coal-black crows with peacock flair
and gangster elan strut across the grass,
summer is almost past they call–
but not quite yet whispers the butterfly,

the rabbits hop and turkeys trot
and deer with smooth grace retrace
past seasons. The river flows on,
an unanswered question, a memory, a lullaby

for unsettled spirits amidst brittle relics
where they once cried and died,

under an autumn sky,
they drift above ground settling bone-full and dry.

Early Morning, Red Bank Battlefield

I took a poem I had written last August and started revising it. It then demanded that I turn it into a poem to honor the remains of the Hessian soldiers found this summer at Red Bank Battlefield where I walk almost every day. The official announcement was made this past Tuesday.

I like that in the various reports I’ve read that historian Jennifer Janofsky and archeologist Wade Catts have emphasized not only that this is an exciting and unexpected discovery, but that it also emphasizes the brutality of war. They hope to be able to identify some of the soldiers from their remains, and they will be reburied. So, I have more River Ghosts.

Here’s the link to the website about the project.

I’m sharing this with dVerse Open Link Night.

NaPoWriMo: Unearthered


They sailed the seas/ as we awoke

a thousand years ago/ from dreams of glory

ships small, but sturdy/ voyagers in life’s adventures

traveling miles to worlds unknown/traveling years through time

sagas told and retold/ until reality intruded

plunder and discovery/ sadness and grief

vanished lives /with tears long gone now

almost erased/ buried in the past

waiting to be rediscovered / their tracks leaving traces still


Another cleave poem based on archeology (sparked by this article)  because I’m fascinated by uncovering the past and  because the past is open to multiple interpretations, isn’t it?

Thank you, Jane Dougherty for introducing me to this poetry form.

NaPoWriMo 2016, Day 3