The poetry of “War Sonnets”

Leo Baldwin and Tadashi Abukara, soldiers fighting on opposite sides in the Pacific Theater of World War II have more in common that one might think. They are both farmers and poets. And they are both fighting for a cause they firmly believe in.

Leo loves the sonnet.

“The challenge of the sonnet intrigued him, its rules of iambs, quatrains, and couplets a welcome exercise of the mind instead of the body.”

War Sonnets
           BASIC TRAINING
They came to us as boys, from streets and farms.
They stay here thirteen weeks, then go to war.
We turn these gentle boys to men at arms,
Taught how to kill a dozen ways and more.
We take their baseball gloves and give them guns.
We stick a bayonet upon the end.
We teach them how to shoot and slash; the ones
Who learn the skills on which their lives depend
We send to war, to kill. When they return
(If they return), we’ll pat them on the head
And say “Forget the skills we made you learn.
Forget the killing and forget the dead.
Be boys again; forswear the arts of war.
We’ll call you if we need you anymore.”

Tadashi prefers the simplicity of the haiku, but the emotion and terror he packs into these little verses are anything but simple:

Wounded and dying,
I am taken by my foes.
I live, but am dead.

Both soldiers are passionate writers. And passionate fighters.

But there will come a time when they are not sure what they believe in anymore.

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