Before I had my imagiNed.com website ready, Walter Cronkite died. So I brought my site live with just one entry, a poem I wrote 21 years ago (partly) about the death of Walter Cronkite.
Walter Cronkite died today (July 17, 2009). He couldn’t wait for my website, but my poem had been waiting to be published for 21 years.
Hi, my name is __________ .
I think I was tortured to death in a previous lifetime.
I was born in a space somewhere between Walter Cronkite and Walter Disney.
The only education I haven’t had is some time in prison.
I’m a man, of course.
Who wants to be a woman.
Once in a while.
I was very young when my mother first lied to me. I don’t remember. I feel it though.
And she didn’t do it often. But I still held it against her.
Didn’t she know that I knew, was a kid, and smart? And because I learned her lesson of judgment so well – I judged her for it.
The lie she told was: No more milk.
And Father, killed a man, in the war, with a knife. He didn’t want to remember it. He was so cool about that, that he didn’t remember it all over me.
When Walter Cronkite dies, I’ll bet my future that he gets on the cover of Time magazine.
He told people stories when they believed in them.
That’s a very comfortable time to remember.
Like an old wound.
— Ned B.
— July, 1988
(Following comment thread transplanted from the original incarnation of this website.)
Had a look at your poem – autobiographical or fictional? My dad also either killed or seriously wounded someone in Korea. It was at the tail end of the war and he was guarding something and a guy came at him and it was a self defense thing. My dad talked about how “sick” the military training was that he got, with his commanding officer cheering them with the so-called “spirit of the bayonet”. My dad always did feel horrible about what happened – he remembered it and said with no small amount of sadness that the poor guy was probably just trying to steal food for his family.
Posted by Mary P on 07/18/09
My poem was a lament about belief and trust in icons and eventual let-downs (except from Mr. Cronkite), metaphorical rather than literal.I’m sorry to hear about your dad’s war experience. I can’t imagine how wrenching it is to go through such experience. Nowadays, military killers sit in air-conditioned rooms and launch missiles from drones at hapless wedding parties in Afghanistan. Much less angst-inducing. How civilized we’ve become.
Posted by Ned B. on 07/18/09
Loved your poem. Had no idea you were so aware of stuff like that. I often think back to your excited comment to me and Hussein Ali at Raynet on the date 8/8/88 … like one of the last pure palindrome dates we would ever experience (I missed the thought on 9/9/99).
So … I loved your poem! Sounded reflective and autobiographical to me, yes? Yeah – the original lie all of is face – no more milk. At least you got some. Years later I asked Mom why no milk for me? She said it was inverted nipples. I don’t know Ned, my older sister got plenty. Why cut me off with none?!
I appreciate the tact your father used when leaving out the painful details of war experience. War in person seems to be an emotional meatgrinder. My wife works now as a social worker in the Palo Alto VA and does outplacement on general vets. They do have 2 special higher-priority higher-funded sections especially for the most recent ops: Operation Emerging Freedom (OEF, aka Afghan war vets) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF, aka Iraqi war vets) with more intensity and lots of IED frag and blast survivors who are crippled and needing temporary critical care before trying to resume a life … very sad.
Anyway … let’s get in touch sometime. Love to see you again. You were the most sensitive and human guy I ever worked with before or after Raynet. Steve C.
Posted by Steve C. on 08/27/09