Red Letter Day


Red Letter Day

D– Night–
what makes laden men alight
into depths of icy water,
if not drowned,
met with slaughter–
Is it the one behind
who pushes?
Is it the naught behind
that rushes?

Dear Day
becoming night,
sun itself takes iron flight–
cloudburst sand replaces dawn
streaking crimson on and on–
Trees leave craters
coast apes moon
scraps of limb
strafe every dune–

D– Day,
dear God–
what remains–
so thick the sod
sown with crosses
row on row
on row on row on row on row–

I feel a little pretentious writing of D-Day, but my dear dad was in World War II, in the European Theater as well as Pacific, coming through the beaches of Normandy (a short while after the initial invasion force), so can’t help feeling especially moved  on the 70th anniversary.  Please note that I don’ t mean the poem to be flippant–I am very uncertain of the title for that reason and worried that the poem has a very negative feel. Of course I do not mean to diminish in any way the intense bravery of the troops or of the allied cause. I mainly was just thinking of the terrible casualties.  

The poem was inspired by Herotomost’s post on with real toads about writing a letter.  I tended to think of  letter in both senses.   

There are vast cemeteries in Normandy, of troops who died in the Allied invasion.

I don’ t think this photo particularly goes with the poem, but I took the photo a few days ago and like it.  

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16 Comments on “Red Letter Day”

  1. No apology necesaary – the poem speaks perfectly of the horror of D Day and the poignant loss of life shown in your row on row on row of crosses. My uncles were there as well and were never able to talk about it even to one another. One uncle was a medic on Normandy Beach. Unimaginable.

  2. Brendan Says:

    This letter to Father — a personal one, Father Time, and God the Heavenly Father — asks for an understanding that can’t resolve all those rows and rows of white crosses. Letters to the dead never can do more than reach that wall and echo back, I don’t think, but that doesn’t mean the voices don’t return with something. There’s an Irish photographer named Michael St. Maur Sheil who’s got an exhibition of WW-1 era battlefields a century later, still showing blast craters and other devastation. A ripened echo. Hard indeed it is to write something for an occasion that doesn’t get lost in the public ceremony and media exhaustion, but you did. Thanks for letting us into the bottle for the message scrolled there.

  3. brian miller Says:

    the two questions at the end of the first stanza really pop k…nearly as much as that closing image on all the crosses…have been to arlington a few times and it always stills me to see…

  4. hedgewitch Says:

    Yes, a difficult subject. I think you handled it with great grace, k. I especially like the morphing of the letter part, d-day, dear day, etc, which brings such an element of prayer(those warding prayers that we say when terrified) into it, and the language with which you build your imagery–I thought ‘the sun itself takes iron flight’ especially strong, as is that whole stanza with the particular images of planes, armed invasion, death, all reflected in simile to the natural world, as if another force of nature, which of course they are, our lowest, most destructive human nature, which finds a resolution to its evil and greed in such slaughter.(I mean the reason those men had to die, here, not that they were the agents of that evil. They were the sad,valiant, only thing that could cleanse it.) Anyway, the rhyme is superb, the cadence like the drone of marching feet and turning wheels, and the whole poem very brave. Kudos to you for tackling such a hard subject, and more for doing it so well.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I am not sure about the naught line as what I was referring to was that there was really no turning back and I did originally keep pushes for both lines. Naught meaning that they could not get back to the ships that weren’t safe anyway– but it may imply a larger meaning that I don’t really want to include. So have to think about it I guess.


  5. The past should be remembered in whatever form inspires a retelling of history. I found your piece to be very moving, and also a timely reminder of the devastation that ensues when the world goes to war.

  6. claudia Says:

    it’s good to remember – and i like the pic to go with it as well… it speaks of hope… so sad how many lives were lost

  7. Herotomost Says:

    I had watched a few television pieces this week on D-Day and am always so astounded at what those boys had to endure. This a a hugely fitting piece and a great tribute to those like your father who stood up gave everything they had. thanks so much for submitting this today, I loved it, a great piece of writing and a timely subject for sure.



  8. Susan Says:

    Red letter is D, a scarlet letter, a remains of war. Your poem astounds, especially row after row, etc.

  9. Helen Says:

    A sobering reminder of what that day represents .. beautifully rendered.

  10. Your letter brings alive the tragedy of the costly sacrifice of freedom. My father also was a soldier in WW II. He spoke little about his service except is lack of seeing combat. He was a mechanic that kept everything running. He didn’t want a military funeral because he felt he didn’t deserve it. I could never convince him he served honorably.

  11. There are some powerful feelings and images in this poem. i, too, feel identified with D-day, even though I was not around then and I’m not European. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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