Introduction by Stefan Lovasik

It has been an honor and a remarkable challenge to narrow all the fine poems down to what is collected here, especially given that there were approximately 3,000 poems submitted for this issue of Pedestal. I sincerely wish we could have published many more. My deep gratitude to John Amen for asking me to be part of this issue and to both John and William Blackley for their wisdom, thoroughness, dedication, and integrity in this editorial process.

As a combat veteran, the poems, from veterans and non-veterans alike, evoked memories, feelings, and experiences that are charged with deep emotion—emotions that are often difficult for me to articulate—and highlighted my continuing struggles that span 47 years. I am a product, “one” result of war.

War, in all its permutations, has physical, emotional, moral, and philosophical consequences, and I feel it’s represented here: these poems speak to and affirm the resilience of our spirit, our hubris, our grief, and our struggle toward peace.

My wish, my prayer is that, in some small way, these poems, these voices will move us a bit closer to peace, kindness, and love.

—Stefan Lovasik, author of Persona and Shadow




A Little Shade

It’s sometimes that particular low gray light of morning
or a brilliant moon that swallows me, lights
the glare of my history; puts it into that dark wish to erase.
Those times when I had one eye on those deaths in
the circle of my scope and one eye on the beautiful green;
the sway of it, the silent track of birds. That fire of days and nights
I had to love to make it through.
So, yes, I want a little shade
to escape into like a cave,
like the dark and opiate jungle rain.




Veterans Day

the day is pressed flat
against the monument
near the bridge we walked as boys
near the river where we proved
we were men
by swimming its width
where the spirits now gather
helping us to piece together
how we survived
the jungle’s rage
the boys squeezing the triggers
as we stand in the gleam of this
hard stone
knowing our memories
are exit wounds
thinking tropical in cold wind
remembering the stupid glory we swallowed
knowing we became the blood men
the chasm men
who seem to walk without hearts
thinking mercy
will always hear
our buried voices