When Hope takes Holiday

Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry

The park seemed so attainable,

safe, reachable,

nothing sharp, or piercing,

only the equipment

that satisfied my eyes,


morning through night,

hours of fun she said,

and insisted,

and prayed that I might,

then understand.


Before the storms arrived,

I knew my ground,

wished for fairy tale dreams,

while searching the skies

as my hair trailed on the sandy ground.

Peaceful and alive,

I knew I could do this forever,

and today I would,

for just out of her reach,

I felt the initial wave,

when the bombs dropped.

Yesterday’s Lives



I recall

a crisp morning

listening to the radio

describe Bobby Kennedy’s iron lung

By the end of the day

I was listening to music again.

Yesterday, and probably later on today lives

will be lost at the hands of war

all of which are names we don’t know.


Yet, in the blogs and commentaries

the incessant threads that expose our world,

in news reports and cocktail hour chats

the name ISIS will become familiar,

Kurdish, Gaza, Ukraine, Israeli, Shiite,

Crips, Bloods, Disciples, Latin Kings,

Jihad, Taliban …

White, Black, Hispanic, Russian, Somali, Asian,

Native American


Some names we know,

they live nearby,

walk the same streets as you and I

on any given night,

we read about their activities,

still far across the city,

distant identities across the world,

seemingly wanting the same

still not walking in stride,



We are a talented animal,

with our flaws and successes,

we conveniently forget

matters of hurt.

Wherever our world exists

we must always respond

to the reality around us.

In my own backyard,

I worry  about flowers and trees,

while in a nearby war zone,

families cry for each other’s lives.

We must never forget

yesterday’s lives.


War Overdrive

We live in a world drawn by the impact

of modern technology

every news cast is sure to alarm you,

bodies and limbs at 8 minute intervals

we’re told the devastation is awful

yet we watch anyway,

we are told there are gruesome stories

yet we listen anyway

we are told again that immigration is an issue

yet I have to believe you are kidding me.


I listen to the news

I can only handle around 10 or 12 minutes before

I begin to check out,

I cannot breathe anymore

I find the movie disturbing

I suddenly realize it is not a movie


Our reality is on the news,

you might suggest it is not your problem

given the geographic separation,

but then you remember that sage

just the other week in the coffeeshop

saying outloud

that anything you might say today

could be heard across the world.


Indeed when we imagine our hardship

having enough gas to make it to work

making sure our playgrounds are safe

for kids to climb on climbers

swing on swings

while in Gaza

oh yeah, there’s that place we want to forget

while in Gaza

kids are playing like kids are playing,

yet their playgrounds are blown apart

walls and ceilings

decorated with blood and limbs and shadows

of death, that becomes a way of life

their playgrounds are the exposed

infrastructure of buildings

and exposed ceiling holes

brought to you in CNN overdrive.

Stop the Conversation

A lot of theory being tossed around

about who is responsible,

what monster is bombing our children

yet, no answers being readily made,

only accusations,

shallow theories,

don’t hold a candle to the shallow graves

our children are laying in.

Day after day the reports are grim,

we can’t turn on the tube without

analysis, anger and angst,

yet, nothing can be done over here,

except, no not accept, simply except.


We pray a lot when helpless death comes around

when cancer strikes someone down,

while our lives as human beings are being tossed around,

rather, split apart by the terrors of war.

We like to hope our prayers are reaching those in need,

when all we can really do is ready ourselves

for the pain that lies ahead, and learn to accept

we have absolutely no control over His plan,

or maybe its Her idea, I haven’t a clue.

Stroll outside and glance upon the sky,

know its beauty is only borrowed time,

for some, for many, for those that don’t

make it to your Saturday barbecue.


Life has a different face when the cameras are off,

when Johnny on the spot is ’embedded in war’

My God isn’t that a little ludicrous,

to imagine we will put a reporter in harm’s way

just to show us all the ugliness; hear what human nature


Far different than that Utopia, Nirvana, Peace …

we all strive for peace, then, why do we not listen to each other!

A Mortar Shell Fell Today

Coolest thing this afternoon,

I was playing in the school courtyard,

with my friends,

had my eye on a special girl,

she comes to play all the time,

we were happy little kids,

skipping rope and playing tag

when a fireworks went off

right at our feet,

the smoke was intense,

and pieces of metal flew everywhere.

It all happened so fast that when I looked over,

she was gone, I didn’t get a chance to say hello.

She was lying on the ground,

a sea of red fury enveloping her young body,

the smoke was heavy

we were done with playing in the school yard for the day,

our parents arrived to take us home.

our parents arrived, a few of them, to take us home.

Vintage Concern

When I was a child,

my mother,

whose influence upon me,

lasted for many years,

still does,

when I think about what I want to say.

She didn’t believe in war,

didn’t understand Vietnam,

when I asked her one day what the fight was about,

I was ten,

she said, ‘sugar cane’

Seemed rather simple to me,

a solution appeared ready,

let’s just share the wealth.


I am an older man now,

have experienced the wars of our times,

never first hand, only by the news,

so I still don’t really understand,

I haven’t stood on the front lines,

haven’t sacrificed my limbs, my brain, my heart

for something I just don’t understand.

I do know this though,

too many lives,

too many children,

are becoming young martyrs for a cause

they simply don’t understand.


Even when I reflect back on being ten,

my mom wearing rose colored glasses,

she taught me then about love,

I still believe in that part: love.

Peace Alone

When I walk outside today I will see blue skies

perhaps a touch of gray, possible thunderstorms.

I won’t see blood and carnage,

I will not experience the loss of limb

my world ‘today’ does not contain

a cease fire to prevent ripping human lives

apart both physically and mentally.

When I walk outside today, no flying shrapnel

will cross my path or take out my brother

as he stands by my side.

I will not go to the site of a bombing

to identify the lifeless body of my young child.


When I step outside today, I will recognize peace alone,

I may be wracked to the teeth with societal blues

that weigh me down, and become important to my

well being. Really? Does it all really matter?

How am I blessed to be in a country that fights the inane

battle of gun-control, of protecting our own, of shooting

down our neighbor on a Saturday night over a girl’s smile.

Can you imagine the thousands that might trade your life

for that of nightly air raids, and a neighbor loss count.

Or is it really that simple to imagine they want to be

like us over here where freedom is slapped in the face

at every turn. Where our lives matter, their lives

are given to sacrifice and hardship. Maybe they live better.


Perhaps all the spiritual reckoning that we choose to ignore

while amidst the terror and political chaos of war,

along the avenues of frightened nights, and anxiety driven

afternoons, and frozen in my daily steps mornings.

becomes that powerful guiding force, keeps their soul alive.

Who am I to believe that my peace alone is the proper Way.