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Memorial Day 1982

Text of Poem

Henry Jensen sits in the sun
in an open barn door, holds
his head in his hands, thinks
of the crosses on the graves
of young men killed in wars.
The day upsets Henry, he won’t
celebrate by watching tv, or
take flowers to the cemetery
or read editorials with black bands
around them. All the killing
for nothing—he won’t be mocked
by the word ‘‘patriotism,’’ Henry
fought in France. He thinks of life
in young bodies with never a chance
to grow into its promise. Is life
sacred or has it no meaning?
He looks at his fields, always at work
with seeds faithful to rain and sun.
He thinks of the ground in Europe
soaked with blood, not his kind
of fertilizer. Deep in his spirit 
a rage rises and he swears
he’d like to plow up the whole
goddamned world and plant white crosses
to grow into strong young men.

First Line
Henry Jensen sits in the sun
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
A Country Man. Cumberland, IA: Pterodactyl Press. 1993. 32.
Complete Poems
Hearst Collections
Word Count
Poetic Form
Henry Jensen as protagonist