Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-naked July 28, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:33 am
Tags: , , , , ,

The line of naked men was long, snaking along a corridor

in the recruitment centre, with whispered jokes and camaraderie,

then the naked line was shorter,

then just one naked man standing awkwardly alone,

in the line of now clothed young men.

He fought flaming cheeks as they studied him punctiliously.

“No, you won’t do,” the army medical team announced.  “Heart murmur.”


A great escape, that.  The boys who went to war never quite came home.

But that heart murmured along for another three quarters of a century,

serving his country by staying alive..




My dad had a lot of stories.  

Apparently I’ll be working through my grief setting them down as poems.


37 Responses to “poem-naked”

  1. Yes, there are many paths to service.

  2. jensenempire2551 Says:

    Your a strong women Mrs. Bird, live and love the memories, possibly sometime in your future, you struggle to recall your name?

  3. Melody J Haislip Says:

    It takes time. Today is the ninth anniversary of my mom’s escape from illness and old age. Congratulations, Mom, I still miss you so much. ❤

  4. colonialist Says:

    War is certainly an experience one is far better off without.

  5. Hey poetess, I’ve humbly nominated you to a poetry “challenge”; your blog and the writing prompt guidelines are in my latest post. I would be honored if you accepted. thank you. -Sarah

  6. spykeyone Says:

    Interesting. I don’t know if you intended it to have a hint of humor and I quite can’t think why but it made it smile. It may be because the mental image of lines of naked men (me being male) can be quite evocative. Might be that it brought to mind a scene from The Full Monty. Dunno. Liked it regardless. P.S. Didn’t mean this comment to be at all disrespectful. I did see the line about your father.

    • I think the image is rather surreal. I asked Dad whether it was embarrassing to be standing naked like that and his response was, “Not when everyone else was. When it was just me, yes.” He was so shy, he couldn’t pee in a public toilet. Can you imagine how he felt at the end? Poor guy. Hope I conveyed that in the poem, and the final laugh, because dollars to doughnuts he outlived every man in the room.

  7. Shawn: I wonder if these anecdotes would do well as pieces of short non-fiction, or creative non-fiction rather than poetry. I see a book in the offing…

  8. Reminds me of one of my uncles who tried to volunteer for the Army during WWII. After his physical he was told he had less than a year to live due to some ailment he was unaware of. He lived to be almost 90.

    • Yeah. You’ve got to wonder about those army doctors. (And be thankful for the escape!) Dad said none of his friends before the war were friends with non-soldiers after the war. He said they all changed. A whole lot of PTSD in the air, I imagine.

  9. Jarrod C Says:

    These are very true words. Sometimes what we perceive are failures actually lead us to successes but in a different realm than we thought.

    Hope you are well my friend.

  10. Yes you certainly will Shawn. I found writing was a great release in the last week of my dads life as he battled pneumonia each day. I found it very distressing and so each night I went home and wrote.
    Good luck with it, grief is a roller coaster of a ride.

  11. Julia Putzke Says:

    Stories through poetry are a beautiful. beautiful thing. They seem to hold you tighter in a memory, moment (I’ve noticed through my own grief). Keep laying them down. ❤️

  12. I found writing so helpful since my mother passed in December. I wish I had thought of that when my father died 11 years ago. Poetry helps me more somehow and I love how you can take bits of your father’s stories keeping them alive through your beautiful writing. Big hugs to you, Shawn xx I am not sure if you still have family in Québec but if ever you come down, let me know.

    • Dad was only back in 1963 to introduce my mother and make them all jealous about how gorgeous she was. 😉 Georges was his step-dad who died in 1971, and while there were surely lots of Duguay step-cousins (since you can’t throw a rock in Quebec or New Brunswick without hitting a Duguay), he didn’t keep in touch with any. He was, of course, the last of his friends alive. However, I was last in Quebec in 1980 and it’s high time I returned. It’s so lovely! My daughter lived in Matane on the Gaspe for several months in 2003.

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