Betsey Cullen studies and teaches poetry at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Delaware. First and third prize winners at the Yorkfest Adult LiteraryCompetition in 2019, her poems have appeared in the Broadkill Review and numerous anthologies. Her collection, Our Place in Line, won Tigers’ Eye Press’ 2015 Chapbook Competition. Betsey lives in West Chester, PA. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Henry L. Stimson* at Shisendo Shrine, Kyoto
Here under the gaze of 36 poets you must have removed boots meditated on tatami mat smelled spicy viburnum listened to splash of koi.
Here you inhaled peace exhaled war
Why else remove Kyoto from the top hit list?
Why else divert the Enola Gay and “Little Boy” from here to Hiroshima?
*US Secretary for War, WW II
The Last One
Indian Hannah b. 1730 - d. 1802 Last of the Leni-Lenape in Chester County, PA She moved like wind, rain and sun, hawked brooms, baskets found shelter at Webb’s farm
bathed papooses in the icy Brandywine braced young’uns for non-belonging
fended off pox among her people dodged bullets from the Paxon Boys.
In Chester County’s Poor House, she breathed her last.
Scant honor being last. Last frontier. Last gasp. Last judgment.
Last a sting.
Still we honor her. Boulders, brass plaques
mark birthplace, cabin, gravesite. Down Indian Hannah Road
find her eagle feather etched in granite.
We’re the ones who butchered the bird.
At the German Cemetery in La Cambe, Normandy
…see but our hands and the bleeding business they have done… JuliusCaesar
My father limps through the arch, his knuckles white on cane,
shoulders slumped, as if burdened by the death of 22,000 souls.
Clusters of five crosses mark a multitude of graves
strewn like stepping stones over close-cropped grass. Lava-black,
the crosses seem like hands of cards, each one a bloodied flush of honor.
My father hid the hand
that polished Gott Mit Uns on belt buckle, lurched at rifle recoil, shooed flies off flesh.
In the grip of brothers scored in stone, he mutters Too much.
Even so, I cannot take his hand.
You gaze from formal portrait – trim beard, dark turtleneck, tight jeans, black skull cap – a spirit
fine schools couldn’t suppress, a sales guy with vagabond soul. You earned twenty million,
stashed the stock, paid off wife and five children (shackles of youth), bunked drunk in a ’65 Mustang.
At home with hobos, you rode the rails from Fargo to Seattle, as much a relic as the steam locomotive.
After reentering polite society you still railed against modernity, wrote block-print letters
peppered with interjections, words like values and tradition underlined in red ink, twice.
Now you lean on a boxcar door nailed open with a railroad spike – a rover, outward bound.