Flanders Fields

Flanders' Fields

 

Ugonna Wachuku 

 

(c) 1997: Ugonna Wachuku 

 

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Contents

 

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Dedication

 

Prologue

 

Flanders Fields 

 

Crossroad

 

The Lamp

 

In Your Eyes

 

Angel

 

New Hope

 

Let me Be

 

What Have We Done

 

Racism and Injustice

 

Sky Blue

 

Once Again


Waiting

 

Searching

 

When I'm Gone

 

Landscape of My Soul

 

Take Me Home

 

Still Waters

 

Heaven

 

The Author

 

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Dedication

 

__ 

 

To the cherished memory

of John McCrea and all

those brave souls who

"lie in Flanders Fields"

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Prologue

 

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"Tell them this, if ye

break faith with us who

die, we shall not sleep

though poppies grow

in Flanders' Fields."

 

~John McCrea

 

These deeply moving words by John McCrea

just before he died on the French Channel

coast in 1918 with the British coastline

in view, could not be more essential and

meaningful than now and ever.

 

Conequently, it is in keeping faith with

the dead that I write this collection. Now,

what does keeping faith with the dead mean?

Keeping faith with the dead is to do our

very best to make peace. In making peace,

our basic task  is to embrace the truth of

the brotherhood of humanity - so that,

together as one, we will make the world a

healthy and beautiful home. This is the most

valuable legacy we can bequeath to humankind.

 

Future generations will undoubtedly be glad.

In unequivocal terms, let us join hands with

the strength of love. We must denounce the

devastating reality of hatred, racial injustice,

poverty, deprivation, under-development and

war, again and again - and again!

 

My narrative poem: `Flanders' Fields' explores the

fatal problem of war, life and death with a visit

to the graveyard. This ballad is symbolic of life,

hope, beauty, love and the passing reality of the

often sad human condition. Flanders' Fields takes

us on a journey of realization and awareness -

the wisdom in allowing our earthly life to grow,

to love in humility and bloom like the poppy which

will flower forever.

 

Subsequently, from `Crossroad' to `Heaven', join me

for a humane, creative voyage into love, care and

beautiful rejuveneration in nature. Experience those

fears, tears, dreams, riddles and hope we have in

common. Surely, beloved friends, my deep-felt hope

is that you will personally find meaning, joy and

soul healing inspiration from this collection.

 

My simple prayer is that our ever loving God will

grant us deep faith to hold hands together and affirm

our believe in a peaceful world founded on the brotherhood

of humankind and clothed in the brilliant blue garments

of love:

 

May our longing and search for a peaceful world lead us

to the saving meadow-land and green pastures of that

heavenly storm stopper: May this age old yearning of

every human soul find uplifting expression in that living

love and unfathomable peace that will flower and bloom like

the poppies of Flanders' Fields!

 

Ugonna Wachuku

Wednesday 10 August, 1997

Geneva, Switzerland

 

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i:

 

Flanders' Fields

 

My maternal grandfather

fought in the jungles

and trenches of Burma,

now, Myanmar.

 

That day, tears clouded

my young eyes as

he told me stories of

life in the trenches.

In great sorrow, I

listened as he told

how friends and loved

ones fell side by side

through the fatal heat

of war.

 

I could smell the

breath of human blood

mixed with mud in

those deadly trenches

of Burma where uncaring

men fought with one

another from dawn to

dusk.

 

With the warmness of

that cold harmattan

night, we sat by the

traditional mud hut

kitchen fire.

 

The sweet smell of

the roasting corn

filled the air with

the smell of the

roasting local pear

and yam.

 

A keg of sweet palm wine

stood by, as well as a

bowl of palm oil mixed

with pepper.

 

I could feel tears

in his eyes as he

told me that most

of them did not

even know why they

were killing one

another!

 

They had no clear

idea of what it

was they were really

fighting for.

Outside, the wind howled

and whistled through

the dark noises of the

night, silently

heralding the cold,

dry dusty desert wind

from the nothern

Sahara.

 

Amos Odu:

for that is my maternal

grandfather's name

told my young heart

the horrors of war.

He taught me the

beauty of peace

flowered with the

fragrant breath of

loving hearts all

across our weeping

world.

 

He told me not

to loose sight of

the real dream of

hope founded on

peaceful handshakes,

smiles and kisses.

 

Then, on that warm,

cold harmattan night,

beside the kitchen

fire, my two younger

brothers: Uchenna and

Ikenna, joined us for

the story.

 

Together, as one,

with the lost love

in human hearts, we

symbolized a new

beginning.

 

I, whose name, Ugonna

means Eagle of God, the

precious large bird of

prey, with keen eyesight,

vision, strength, majestic

essence, princely profile

and dignified endowment,

called myself: Birth.

Uchenna, whose name

means: God's thought

or Father's thought

called himself: Life.

Ikenna, whose name

means; God's strength

or Father's strength,

called himself: Death.

 

Together, since blood

is thicker than water

or even crude oil for

that matter, we formed

a circle of love and

peace. It was a new

heartfelt beginning: 

 

We formed a circle of

human experience and

began to ask why

mankind must kill one

another. We began to

ask why blood must

form river beds in

trenches, jungles

and cities before

humankind realizes

the shameful

nothingness

of war. 

 

We came to affirm

our belief in love;

our caring belief

in the brotherhood

of humankind.

Our circle is a

continuing one,

lovingly reaching

out to touch every

human soul - for

peace; for tolerance;

for the respect of that

bountiful, divine worth

within each human person.

Later, my grandmother,

my father's mother,

taught us the wastage

in war:  

 

Her story was not

of ther trenches of

Burma;

But of the trenches

of Biafra, flooded

with the blood of

our tribesmen on war

path with the bigger

land of my birth.

 

With tears in our

little eyes, we

asked questions.

She told us about

our uncle called

Victor;

a brilliant soul

who was studying

engineering at the

university.

 

The day he left

home for the war

front was the last

they saw of him.

 

The wind whistled

past while trees

swayed to the rhythm.

She told us that

stories were brought

home, of how Victor

her fourth son died

at the Abagana sector

of the war front in

the heat of war.

 

My tribesmen were

called the Biafran

rebels. In turn,

they called the foe,

Nigerian vandals.

 

We could feel the

pain in her eyes.

We could feel

the bleeding heart

of such a loving

and caring mother,

when she said:

 

"We mourned him

so much because

none of the family

saw his body to

this day!"

 

My grandmother turned

to me and told us how

I was born a year after

the Biafran war ended:

She believed I was

Victor's soul renewed

since I was the first

child to be born in

the family after that

bloody and devastating

civil war.

 

My father, whose name,

Maduadighibeyanma, means:

Man hates his fellow human

beign, is her second child.

Then, my grandmother,

whom my two brothers

and I call Ne-nne,

blessed me:

"Vikitor (Victor) died

in the biafran war; but

you are soul renewed -

his soul, born into the

the family as a heavenly

consolation."

 

My grandma, a brave

woman of hopeful

strength and grandeur

prayed further: 

 

"May you seek

peace and build

peace. May you

build peace from

home to the ends

of the earth."

 

In the hidden tears

of her love, she

chanted:

 

"May you, your brothers

and your generation never

see war. War is evil. No

one ever wins. No life is

left unhurt or shattered.

No family is left unscared!"

 

The wind rose and

whistled past.

Trees bowed as if

in agreement to my

grandmother's prayer

and chant.

 

Yet, wars are planned

and made by mankind

in the hateful darkness

of his mind and heart.

But no war is

ever won.

 

The deep, bloody

scars are left to

the living;

to cherish;

to care and

to heal.

 

The cost is too

heavy a burden.

Human resources

plus divine,

earthly bounties

are destroyed.

 

While poppies

glow and bloom.

humanity stunts

in gloom.

 

Should we not learn

from these Flanders'

Fields poppies ever

in bloom and with the

glad birds, in the nude

beauty of nature, sing:

Poppy forever?

 

Then, in pain and tears

of destroyed hopes and

loving dreams did I leave

that green land of my birth;

that vast heart of the noble

Niger and benign Benue - those

two radiant rivers on inspiring

ancestral landscapes.

 

I walk this Alpine land

in search of that peace

which passes all understanding.

Would I not find it in the

reassuring bloom of the

precious poppy

flowering flower?

 

Zurich kissed my yearning

feet in glad welcome; and

passed me on to the warm

winter whiff of glorious

Geneva's fresh february

coldness coddling.

 

In April, Geneva

saw me alive.

 

The spring's sprouting

spirit went with me

on a visit to the

graveyard in remembrance

of those brave souls who

lie in Flanders' Fields

and elsewhere:

 

---   

[present tense

narration]

--- 

 

On a walk through

lofty Loex's woods,

side by side with

the river Rhone,

 

I come to you,

graveyard, to wonder

at these souls lying

here.

 

You walked with us.

You came with us.

You breathed of this

earth.

 

Now, in silence,

you lie still in

this graveyard,

sleeping on green

earth.

 

I wonder at you,

grey tombstone wtih

a cross and rounded

head.

 

I wonder at the

green earth that

now stands on these

bodies that were

once mine.

 

I watch in solemn

thought.

I stand still in

remembrance of you

all who lie here

and in Flanders'

Fields.

 

I too will come

your way.

That way, none

can tell:

 

We cannot tell the story.

We cannot tell the beauty.

We cannot tell the suprise.

We cannot tell the sense.

 

I sit in you, graveyard;

near the war, I sit.

Bees circle my head

and take off to your

flowers, graveyard.

 

In spirit, I watch you

who lie here now.

You walked this earth

like little me.

 

I remember Flanders'

Fields! 

 

I remember Burma

where my grandpa

fought in the trenches.

 

I remember Biafra

where I lost a

promising uncle Victor 

at the war front. 

 

I remember all those

places across the

world where men

lie in graveyards -

slain by deadly hands

of war.

 

In spirit, I watch

you who lie here

now.

 

I watch you in

the silence of

my sober heart.

In you, graveyard,

 

I sit still;

in all mortal

calmness.

Should we not learn

from these poppies

ever in bloom, and

with glad birds in

the innocent beauty

of nature, sing:

Poppy forever;

for you;

for me?

 

Gentle winds walk

my bald eagle head.

Sweet air from the

river Rhone walk

in front of me -

a man in quest for

life;

 

in search of love;

in search of that

hopeful birth;

in search of that

joyful death;

in search of all

natural bounties

and life.

 

I pay homage to you

who lie in this

graveyard.

 

I pay homage to you

who lie in Flanders'

Fields.

 

I deeply remember you

who lie in:

 

Dunkirk,

Katanga,

Biafra,

Angola,

Liberia,

Mozambique,

Zimbabwe,

Rwanda,

Somalia,

Nicaragua,

El Salvador,

Guatemala,

Afghanistan,

Cambodia,

Cyprus,

Iraq,

Iran,

Kuwait,

Korean Peninsula,

Vietnam,

United States of America, 

Mexico, 

Israel,

Palestine,

Middle East,

India,

Pakistan,

Kashmir,

Tajikistan,

Cambodia, 

Sudan

Libya

Georgia,

Abkhazia,

Sierra Leone,

Falkland Islands,

The former Yugoslavia 

Liberia: 

and all other places

with bloody trails

of war and human

conflict, globally!  

 

I pay homage with

peace. 

 

I pay tribute with

that spirit of love

which will always

conquer hatred and

war in the fleeting

minds of humankind.

 

On a walk through

the lofty woods of

Loex, side by side

with the river Rhone,

I come to you,

graveyard.  

 

I have come to be

with you who sleep

here. I have come

to feel with you. 

 

Your flowers are

blooming. I watch

the evening sun

glitter on these

flowers and on me.

 

Yet, in this green

earth, you lie so

still and quite.

 

Only the birds

sing and fly past.

 

Humanity walks you by.

You do not know the

smiling sun on us

anymore.

 

These fragrant flowers,

you cannot smell.

 

I sit still in you,

graveyard. In

contemplation, I

remember you who lie

in Flanders' Fields -

the handsome hope and

home of our poppy

inspiration.

 

Let us care.

Let us love.

Let us keep

faith with the

dead -

our dead!

 

Should we not learn

from these poppies

ever in bloom, and

with the beautiful

birds of God's nature,

sing:

Poppy forever;

for you;

for me;

for our children

and their progenies?

 

Now, I walk this

Alpine land in

search of that

peace which passes

all human

understanding.

 

--- 

 

[present tense

narration ends]

 

--- 

 

Would I not find this

peace in the reassuring

bloom of the precious

poppy flowering flower?

 

Remember, my maternal

grandfather fought in

the jungles and trenches

of Burma, now Myanmar:

 

With the warmness of

that cold harmattan

night, we sat by the

traditional mud hut

kitchen fire.

 

The sweet smell of

the roasting corn filled

the air with the

mouth-watering smell

of the roasting local

pear.

 

The yam which I had

chosen from grandpa's

barn also roasted with

fragrant flavour mixed

with that of the roasting

bush meat.

 

I could not wait to

eat the corn with

the pear; nor could

I wait to dip the

yam or bush meat

into the bowl of

fresh palm oil

mixed with pepper.

 

In great sorrow,

my brothers and I

listened as he told

how friends and loved

ones fell side by side

through the fatal heat

of war.

 

I could smell the

breath of human blood

mixed with mud in

those deadly trenches

of Burma where

uncaring men fought

with one another from

dawn to dusk.

 

Should we not learn

from these poppies

ever in bloom; and

with the inspiring

birds of God's nature,

sing:

Poppy

forever;

for you;

for me;

for our

children

and their

progenies?

 

__ 

 

ii:

 

Crossroad


 

On the crossroad,

down the labyrinthine

path through life,

the journey to you

unfolds.

 

I behold the pastural

path I have to follow.

In the unmarked

cabin,

I meet your soul.

 

I go back to the past.

I go back to the

beginning of a journey

conceived with these

inspiring lush pastures

from the land.

 

That cherishment of

the beginning cuddled

in smiles of motherly

waterfalls embraces

my being.

 

A new clouds walk in.

Fresh dews draw the

marvellous morning to

a towering start.  

 

In the soul that is

mine, I breath of

your caring cation;

life from your

purifying heaven.

 

It is catharsis.

My journey begins

anew.

 

A yeaning in me

unfolds.

 

The moment flees

from me.

 

The present yawns

for a meaning lost

on the narrow road

to this fleeing

moment.

 

Soothing breath is

found.

 

In your heart,

windy waterfall

is met.

 

Life is given.

 

Refreshing hope

is born.

 

A new dawn

screams.

 

I search for your

heartbeat.

 

I search for the

love you hid in

pastural plains.

 

I long to see the

glitter and the

greeness while

dawn lingers.

 

Nothing is lost

on these plains.

 

You walk barefooted

through sands of hope;

just on time, to

fulfill a destiny

in my soul.

 

You walk me through

the dark.

 

You lovingly take

me through those

deadly tunnels in

life.

 

The love you hold

outweighs all!

Love on the

crossroad.

 

Crossroad to

channels of

new discovery.

 

Live is given.

Love is embraced.

 

Your journey in

me unfolds.

 

This good journey

is your name.

 

Crossroad of

discovery and

beginning.

 

Your love makes

me loving on this

journey through

life.

 

Crossroad of

awakening.

Crossroad of

rejuveneration.

 

I behold your

life-giving

road:

 

The caring,

pastural

path

I have

to

f

o

l

l

o

w

!

 

__  

 

iii:

 

The Lamp

 

 

Through dark

roads

and

channels,

a lonely heart

on hopeful

life trail

wander afar

into your

watchful being

 

on

green

garden

glory

In dark woods and

pathways, moonbeams

hide behind grey, blue

clouds on star empty

night.

 

Yonder, on the radiant

river road to noble

nature, blue birds sing

on bloomed garden flowers

to herald the coming of

your lamp.

 

Raindrops journey through

windy woods and nature to

...

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From my long-hand manuscript collection: 

Flanders Fields 

(c) Ugonna Wachuku 

August 1997 

Geneva: Switzerland  

 

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