Two Poems by Lisa Stice

Lisa Stice

Routines fall into cadence, but still, / truth has a roguishness about it—

A Long War

for Sophia Thoreau


Those martial stains seemed as far away as

Jupiter or even Pluto, as many years back as

our memories allowed us to remember which


always seems so long ago now at our little post

under the elm tree, in the shade where we

like to believe we are on high ground past history


but I have a piece of poetry to read to you:


                             Death is not a singular

                             experience—headstones

                             are not quiet and smooth

                             and green with moss—

                             trumpets do not sing

                             the fame of trenches

                             filling up with the weedy

                             dead—and the grunts

                             will say we lost one hell

                             of a lot of people—and

                             the generals will say—

                             our casualties had been

                             high—and a few tales of

                             outstanding bravery will

                             make it into high school

                             history books—and teens

                             will think they have a

                             fairly clear picture of sun

                             and rain and dew on our

                             side—while a man who

                             begins wars from behind

                             a desk will sedulously

                             cultivate another—while

                             everyone else will not

                             want to think about it,

                             will say I can’t even

                             imagine


Yes, a poem is a comforting thing to have,

a very friendly thing to have.


* Sophia Thoreau (1819-1876; United States): collaborator and editor of Henry David Thoreau’s works (she was the primary editor for all of his posthumous publications), artist (including the original title page of Walden), naturalist, gardener, abolitionist, and teacher; sister of Henry David Thoreau

* some words borrowed from Walden, “The Bean Field” (“the trumpet that sings of fame,” “these martial stains seemed as far away as,” “the elm tree tops,” “singular experience,” “sedulously cultivating another,” “a long war,” “sun and rain and dews on their side,” “filling up the trenches with the weedy dead,” “our little post,” “a fairly clear picture,” “high ground,” “past history,” “lost one hell of a lot of people,” “our casualties had been high,” “tales of outstanding bravery,” “I have a piece of Poetry to read to you,” “they didn’t want to think about it,” “It’s a comforting sort of thing to have,” “was a very friendly thing to have,” “quiet and smooth and green”



Behind the Beat

for Sheila Wingfield


Routines fall into cadence, but still,

truth has a roguishness about it—


stepping out of rhythm, tossing back

a few in the middle of the night—


You want something so badly, so

completely that you fail to complete


a circle of friends or poem after poem

put aside from the shock of war’s end—


However it’s cooked, food goes down

slowly with a side of lacking conversation—


This is how you learn to communicate

like a staccato of ammunition, then silence


until you move like a cloud across the sun,

and the sun is far, far in the distance then—


Routines fall into a different cadence, but still,

truth will always have that roguishness about it.


* Sheila Wingfield (1906-1992; Irish, born in England): poet (several collections including A Cloud Across the Sun, A Kite’s Dinner and Beat Drum, Beat Heart) and memoirist (Real People and Sun Too Fast)

* a line borrowed from the title A Cloud Across the Sun



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Lisa Stice is a poet/mother/military spouse. She is the author of two full-length collections, Permanent Change of Station(Middle West Press, 2018) and Uniform (Aldrich Press, 2016), and a chapbook, Desert (Prolific Press). While it is difficult to say where home is, she currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, daughter and dog. You can learn more about her and her publications at lisastice.wordpress.com, facebook.com/LisaSticePoet, and twitter.com/LisaSticePoet.