Leilani Squire
    There are no words to describe the horror of being mutilated in battle, and yet in many of her poems Leilani Squire attempts to do just that, and succeeds as well as anyone could with mere words.  I have seen some of the photographs that have inspired Leilani’s poems. What these photographs convey to the sensitive viewer is genuinely unspeakable, and yet Leilani has courageously descended into sorrowful world of the maimed and has written their song. She has also written the song of those close to the maimed, who have been broken too and who yet try to rise up. Leilani was born in Hawaii and has traveled the world and lived on a boat and it shows in her work, which doesn’t always deal with war and suffering.  I remember, for instance, some of her poems that deal with the breathtaking mountains that surround La Paz, Bolivia. But this is, still, a time of war, and Leilani has said her most meaningful work has been the creative writing workshop with veterans that she facilitates. I see Leilani as a kind of poetic Cindy Sheehan, who gives voice to the anguish of those whose voices are not heard enough or are suppressed. Cindy Sheehan’s moment in the limelight may be over, but Leilani, through the medium of poetry, is still able to remind us of what we so conveniently forget. The depth of feeling in her poems is amazing.  The peace that is longed for in this world of war is found,  somehow, in the tenderly constructed poems themselves. They are a glimpse of the peace we are looking for.

Love Poem to a Private

You lean against that wall, my love,
inside that cell alone –
blinded with red –
blinded from white –
blinded by blue stars of war.
A lullaby approaches
from the place that can't destroy.
I want to grab it, mold it
and whisper shrapnel out of your flesh,
the embedded wounds around you heart.
Let me sing to that
and wish it out of you.
Let me touch your leg, my love,
the flesh and bone exploded
beneath a youthful soldier's valor.
Let me work it back in dream of hope
that seems so lost to you.
Let me carry your loneliness and despair
down the winding roads imprinted in your mind
and lay you upon our great Mother's earth
where she waits and breathes and births
fresh dreams.
There, I'll take your head and place it gently
upon the bed of moss I'll make for you.
I'll carry clear water from the river of your childhood
and wash your wounds, all of them,
and we'll watch them float away.
Then, I'll lie next to you, my love,
and we'll look through the trees,
up to the stars and into the night,
I'll listen to whatever
you want to tell.

2011 Leilani Squire
Leilani Squire was a Featured Poet who read her poetry at the February 2011 Second Sunday Poetry Series