INSIDE WAR, by Joel Nelson

veteranskr

INSIDE WAR
by Joel Nelson

We read stories of Wars
Hist’ries written on pages
And records of battle
Drawn on walls of the cave
Read of Glory and Honor
And Right through the ages
And all those who fell
‘Neath the crest of the knave

The themes are eternal
Of wars on the ocean
Of axes and swords
On the Otterburn Plain
The ninety gun Frigates
The horsemen in motion
The bleeding has stopped
But the stories remain

There are terms of Armistice
And flags of surrender
This war fought for freedom
That war saved a race
Twixt savages cruel
Or soldiers yet tender
The scholars record them
And each has its place

Some go unrecorded
Wars fought self-contained
Conflicts never ending
No respite or truce
For the foe lives within
Lashing out unrestrained
And the warrior wears thin
From the battles’ abuse

The shelling subsides
Then intensity quickens
With most unaware
Of the state of the war
Leaving soldier and loved ones
With Conflict that thickens
Outsiders observing
The scene from afar

There is only so long
Any warrior can battle
‘Til he must succumb
To the enemy inside
So loosening the reins
Stepping down from the saddle
Heaving sigh of relief
He will cease his long ride

His allies left standing
Gather somewhat uncertain
Refraining from judgment
United by love
Acknowledging peacetime
And drawing the curtain
Leaving all in the hands
Of the Maker above

© 2008, Joel Nelson
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

In observance of Veterans Day and Remembrance Day, we’re honored to share the words of Texas rancher, poet, reciter, and horseman Joel Nelson. He served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. A National Endowment of the Arts Heritage Fellow, Joel Nelson is respected for his writing and his reciting.

He is just back from the soldout 2nd annual Texas Hill Country Cowboy Gathering . Find him at the Western Folklife Center’s 36th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 27-February 1, 2020 in Elko, Nevada and at the Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering, February 21-22, 2020 in Alpine, Texas,  where he is the keynote speaker.

Find more about Joel Nelson at cowboypoetry.com.

This photograph, by Idaho filmmaker, writer, teacher, and photographer Ken Rodgers, was taken in 2016 at the San Antonio Veterans Memorial Plaza and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

bravop

Ken and the equally talented photographer and filmmaker Betty Rodgers are the creators of the award-winning film, Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor, about the men of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines during the 1968 siege at Khe Sanh in the Republic of Vietnam, in which Ken served. The film is available for streaming at
amazon.com. Find more at bravotheproject.com, where there is an engaging blog.

imarried

Their latest project, I Married the War, tells the stories of the lives of combat veteran spouses, from WWII through today. It is in final editing stages. Find more about it at imarriedthewar.com.

Find poems and more for Veterans Day at CowboyPoetry.com.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photograph with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)