There is one front and one battle where everyone in the United States—every man, woman, and child—is in action and will be privileged to remain in action throughout this war. That front is right here at home, in our daily lives and in our daily tasks. Here at home everyone will have the privilege of making whatever self-denial is necessary, not only to supply our fighting men, but to keep the economic structure of our country fortified and secure during the war and after the war.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s radio broadcast to the nation, April 28, 1942

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Scrap Metal



We took the wagon round
to the back of the barn
and dug through the trash heap
to find dozens of old tin cans,
a rusted tractor seat, one
cracked iron skillet, two
bent bicycle wheels (from
George’s daredevil days),
snippets of bailing wire too short
to use, and an old umbrella
with just a tatter of black cloth
on its ribs. These we piled upon
the wrought iron gate that
had guarded the graveyard
that held the bones of
grandma, and her mother and father,
and the baby that had died
before daddy had even been born.
We hoped mama wouldn’t see it,
but if she did, we’d say it was
for Georgie. For bullets to
keep the enemy away. For tanks
to stop the enemy’s advances.
For anything that would help
keep my brother out
of that family graveyard.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress. Poster courtesy Northwestern University Library.


Andrea Murphy said...

I am just loving your WWII poems, Diane.

Steven Withrow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Withrow said...

This is incredibly good, Diane. Taut and evocative!

As part of my ongoing study of metric and nonmetric verse, I'm curious about the structure of this poem. Are your choices of line breaks more or less instinctual, or do you break for specific emphasis or rhythmic effect? Email me at if you have a chance.

GatheringBooks said...

Very moving poem. Thanks for sharing. =)

Diane Mayr said...

Thanks for visiting everyone! Come back on Monday.

I'm Jet . . . said...

Really terrific, D.