Vapor Trails

Criss-crossed vapor trails
of magenta, white, and blue
line the evening sky above the land
where white stars on a blue field
represent the freedom of a nation.
Ironic then, that the vapors
should form an almost perfect star
in the colors of our national symbol.
Is there some hidden symbolism
to this sunset in a land about to go to war?
Were the vapor trails formed to remind us
of our obligation to liberty and justice.?

Lee McQuinn

Museum Memory

I walked through the cool recesses of the museum.
past the displays of ancient times onto the section of war.
Recent wars, wars that we learned about in school.
Banners, criss-crossing the air, each broadcasting the propaganda
meant to drive the mighty war machine of men and women.
I walked silently, reverently, past the children
gleefully playing at war on the old tanks and jeeps,
while parents watched, laughing, from the sidelines.
I walked past the displays of memorabilia, pieces of history,
collected as souvenirs, from the fallen bodies
of those we considered our enemies,
instead, just mere lives, tragically cut short by the war.
My mind, and body, are drawn instinctively,
to the display at the end.
The wall that pulls all the displays together, and perhaps,
gives some meaning to those who will listen.
Displays that capture a moment in time
that will forever remain entombed here.
The very wall, that I now stand before.
The very wall that now reaches out,
and with a fierceness grabs and holds my heart
in its soul-piercing grasp.
There it is!

The sum total of this not so ancient war.

There it is!

It is hanging in all it’s crisp folds and pristine stars!
It’s color’s brightly preserved for the future generations,
who will look on it, and question, Why?

Our flag is now safely ensconced
within it’s controlled environment casement.
But for as much as the flag alone means, to those of us
who call ourselves Americans.
It is not the flag that yanks at the heart and soul,
bringing the hot, regretful tears to my eyes.
My soul is pierced to the very core by the old, bent and rusted dog tags,
No doubt found on some distant body unknown to me.
They are glued in their place,
to look like they have been lovingly hung on the corner
of the old, yellowed photograph just today.
The photo is of a handsome, uniformed man,
caught in a moment with a gentle smile on his lips,
reminiscent of his cherished youthful exuberance.

He is now, never to grow old, forever caught as a youth.
His gentle life lost on some far away shores.
Now remembered, in the climate controlled atmosphere of a museum,
where children play at war on the very means of his destruction.

Lee McQuinn

A Single Loss

In honor of Officer Mark Brown, who was killed in an explosion while doing a building check.

“A Single Loss”

I found myself standing back,
Hidden among the mourning crowd.
And, I grieved inwardly for a soul
I’d never had the opportunity to meet.
Still, I knew the profoundness of the loss
That our small community would feel.
We’d feel the loss in the smallest of ways
Like the end of their evening patrol,
And the cessation of their joyful laughter
Carried on the wisps of the evening breeze.
So, now, we stood
A small community thrown together by their grief
We, who would forever mourn,
The loss of a soul seemingly gone unnoticed
Until with sudden clarity, ceased to exist.
Left behind are we, in all our shattered realities
Left behind, also, a community now united.

Lee McQuinn
213 – 121419970001

My Son, on War

Before you read this, realize that I wholely love and support our men and women who serve our country. They are my brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and cousins. That said, I wrote this right after my son (as a young teen) told me that he wanted to go fight in a war somewhere because that was the only way to get the girls to like him. So, I sat down and wrote this. This is the first time I’ve made it public.

“My Son, on War”

My Son,
There is a bitter travesty
Which we call war.
It is not pleasant, not honor bound.
Killing and violence
Are its only goals
Leaders of this world
Invoke its threat
Like a mighty sword,
Seemingly unconcerned with lives
It takes in its cruel reality
And Son,
Even though you think your war is just.
Remember this:
Violence is never a solution.
Its cousins are pain and death.
My Son,
Most importantly,
Before you go enlist
Remember that your actions
Will haunt the rest of your days.

Love, Mom.

Lee McQuinn
0185 – 010819980833

God Responds

I sang for them in my garden
at the dawning of the day
my voice like a anquished cry
of pain, of grief unrestrained
my heart opened its wounds
let the sweet blood of memory
flow out upon my hands
as I held it over my heart
and sang out the nation’s chorus
sang out the hymn’s of this land
the garden was silent this morning
the stones at attention stood
each white cross a red rose I laid
read out the name, becryed their fame
for these are the fallen heroes
the ones who fought upon this land
the ones who painted turtle island red
with the blood of my heart on their hands
for these are the fallen heroes
of a million scattered shores
shinning brightly now in my heaven
cleaned and polished with my own hand
look up, my child, in wonder
look up, my child, hang not your head
for your heroes have not fallen
they came to live with me instead.

Lee McQuinn
C. 2001

A Child’s Song

Soldierman, Soldierman,
Lend me your ear,
Is it life
Or death
You fear?

Soldierman, Soldierman,
When you’re diggin’ in,
Do you wonder,
If you’ll win?

Soldierman, Soldierman,
As you set your sights,
In your heart,
Do you crave
The fight?

Soldierman, Soldierman,
With your head held high,
How many have died
To fill you
With pride?

Lee McQuinn
178 – 010119920002

Lady Liberty

I would like to thank for the use of this picture.

I would like to thank for the use of this picture.

“Lady Liberty”

I saw her standing there
high above the waters
on an island all alone
regal lady grand expression
of Freedom’s light to all

I saw her standing there
on an island all alone
she stares out over her land
water flowing down cheeks
of tarnished copper and steel
her light dimmed by years
unpollished, uncared for
then he came along
climbed up from the bottom
rubbing and polishing
as each step he went
he strove towards the top
to the one place
where he could see
how bright, how far
shines the lights of liberty
the work ahead was daunting
many a struggle he did foresee
rubbing long and hard
his pouch of polishing fluid
flows forth over all
and soon the first sparkle
the first glitter there shone
His lady liberty now had hope
a new day to introduce
see her light now, how it shines
glittering on the horizon
overlooking the bay, the city,
the golden land before her
the water ran down
her copper and steel cheek
today liberty cried
her light restored in hope
for all the people
from sea to shining sea.

Penelope Shedrech
C. 2008

Bird’s Eye View


Flying free
up in the air
I caught a glimpse
of a bright red glare.

At first,
I thought it to be
a cardinal friend
flying towards me.
When at last,
I came upon the spot
debris was coming down.

All around
I could not see,
for smoke had clouded my eyes.
And, away I flew,
not comprehending.

Lee McQuinn
096 – 050519861300

(In memory of the Space Shuttle Challenger’s Crew, 1986)

Memorial Rain

“Memorial Rain”

On that day
So long ago
The rain fell
From God’s eyes
In slow, gentle
Teardrops of sorrow
As we stood
Huddled beneath
The flow
Our black umbrellas
A contrast
To the coffin
The flag
Now draped
In wet precision
A tear laden
The rain fell
From God’s eyes
In silent

Lee McQuinn
081 – 040720080948