the tank drummer

Guitarists strum chords on guitars
& singers sing.  A pianist
floats fingered scales on her keyboard,
but what will we call this soldier

coaxing steel drum tones from a tank?
Guitarists strum chords on guitars
but this man is a war artist,
his palms can sound steel to anthems

on this tank, built for killing, but
now an instrument armed for peace.
Guitarists strum chords on guitars
but who is this soldier, singing

his hands are hammers, beating swords
into plowshares to till in peace,
and plays his piece easy, the way
guitarists strum chords on guitars.

***We are trying out quaterns at Dverse today.  However, this is a special poem, requiring several mentions of other WP blogs, as it was inspired by a video, which Terry at Mobius Faith reblogged and referenced a passage in Isaiah about beating swords into plowshares.  I already reblogged the video, but it is worth a second look, I think.  Here it is.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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58 Responses to the tank drummer

  1. davidtrudel says:

    Very, very good! The final stanza is brilliant.

  2. claudia says:

    this man is a war artist,
    his palms can sound steel to anthems….how cool is that…wish they would turn all war instruments into music instruments… cool job on the form as well susan…see ya later in the pub..

    • Thanks, Claudia–glad you liked my experiment. You know my allergy to forms by now, but this one was okay–not making me rhyme and really only worrying about the refrain and counting syllables on my fingers 😉

      Had fun building this one. See you later…

  3. Green Speck says:

    This is beautiful … i loved the form you used !!!

  4. Laurie Kolp says:

    Wow… this is powerful, Susan. I love the contrast between the musicians and the soldier.

  5. Loved this Susan. You made this work beautifully and for the season as well – in a time of peace on earth, the message is beat those drums and weapons should be turned into plowshare (or instruments). Great poem and use of the form! Loved it.

  6. brian miller says:

    oh very cool….it is nice to think even in war art can be found…and that maybe out of it we might find some peace as well…love the music in this…all our weapons to instruments….smiles…

  7. Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

    I’m with David; the last stanza immediately jumped out at me and probably because whenever I see a soldier speak of peace a part of me thinks that peace really is possible.

    • Thanks, Jeremy–I agree with you and David. Often, I think soldiers are the most qualified of us to speak out for peace, because they have seen firsthand the awful alternative. I know that I listen to their voices carefully, as their words have the bite of experience in them when they advocate for peace.

      • Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

        I think (some) soldiers often offer the most complex observations. Maybe it is because they are liminal figures in the mythological sense: they can beat swords into ploughshares all the while knowing that you need both.

  8. Miriam E. says:

    this brought tears to my eyes, Susan. wonderfull done!

  9. ruleofstupid says:

    Brilliant my busy bee 🙂

  10. Perfection! Excellent use of metaphors. 🙂

  11. vivinfrance says:

    A brilliant use of the form. I loved all the sibilance when I read it aloud.

  12. Mary says:

    This is very well written to the form, plus leaves us with an important message. I can hear that guitar strumming.

  13. I like your theme and presentation of it. We were nearby on topic, at least in the same hemisphere :), but, great job and loved your repeating line.

  14. nico says:

    Great juxtaposition of thoughts here, very well done!

  15. Susan says:

    O, bless you. The first question blew me away! and I fell to pieces throughout the rest (in a Patty Paige way). And if ever he truly is allowed to remake the tank into something resembling a drum, we will have to rename him. For now he’s a hybrid folk singer sculptor tank drummer who could play by firing as well as by drumming.

  16. Really, really enjoyed this. Very good job of juxtaposition. Excellent.

  17. David King says:

    Didn’t quite get the rhythms at first – my fault, not yours – but on second reading it began to sing with the voice you gave it. Admirable piece of work. Very glad I came this way.

  18. I loved the interplay between the notion of war and the symbolism of musical instruments. For me it highlighted the incongruity of how humankind can use its talents and resources for beautiful or devastating outcomes.

  19. nelle says:

    If only this was the extent of weaponry, to gather and make music.

  20. Kelvin S.M. says:

    ..well survived… and it reads just exactly fine to me… like you i also didn’t follow everything ’bout Quatern…i only retained the rhymings &
    refrains.. smiles..

  21. kkkkaty1 says:

    I was reminded of a Pete Seeger or Joan Baez sound…perhaps the words took me there…great use of the form, Susan;)

  22. J Cosmo Newbery says:

    Nicely done. Powerful words, putting a worthy case.

  23. Marvellous, Susan, thought-provoking and evocative

  24. Sabio Lantz says:

    Thanx, Susan, that video was a treat. May it come true.
    Your refrain fits perfectly in the stanza.
    Really enjoyed the read, thanks

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