Memorial Day – Poem by Nels Hanson

William Orpen – To an Unknown Soldier in France

Poem by Nels Hanson

Yes, I was an Unknown Soldier
but why the old uniform, always
this body spread a century ago

in a field by woods in France,
trip mine sailing dog tags like
spun maple seeds children call

propellers? Each year for a day
as captive in marble solitary I
hear the same sentences again,

try to shout “Not me!” to stone
that never answers or listens to
sad angels, nameless ghosts on

Halloween. We are whispering
the murdered are reborn when
no one kills and like Valkyries

the saved lift the fallen until far
away a man resembling Cain’s
hurt brother stirs and rises now.


About the Poet

Nels Hanson’s fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart nominations in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. His poems received a 2014 Pushcart nomination, Sharkpack Review’s 2014 Prospero Prize, and 2015 and 2016 Best of the Net nominations.

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