Wednesday, September 29, 2021




Armistice Day

thoughts, poems, stories



A you walk Mt Pleasant avenue 

turn at the gate to the cemetery. 


Stop at the grave marker for Lowe. 

This has become a habit for me as I have become more aware of the ramifications of the first world war. At times I might salute at other times I simply contemplate:

How engaging and strong must have been the connections that drove men (some,very young indeed) to travel thousands of miles and endure utterly horrid conditions to preserve way of existence that they had come to know as living. I suppose that this could be said of any war.


St John's Cathedral, 2007, 

acrylic/ canvas 30 x 48

But Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs,

and even from these dead doubts

she gathers her most vital hope.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick

A HOMETOWN PARADE , ed touchette,


Whistles blast, marchers align

the drum major pumps his mace.

Snares rattle, bugles blare.

Vendors hawk balloons


Cheerleaders cheer, horses prance.

marching bands play el Capitan,

crowded sidewalks dance

to patriotic songs.


Flat bed trucks haul local stories

draped in crepe paper ribbons,

Kleenex Carnations, and waving

county fair queens.


Sirens whine and children scream,

batons tumble through the air.


At the cemetery

a field of flags sprouts.

Honors for the fallen. Crowds disperse

with handshakes, hugs and see-you-laters.


They’ll meet at the bar

reminisce  older times,

ask themselves, when will I be

among the remembered.




Some time in the 1950s, I asked why the tanks were absent from the parade,

my father said their treads tore up the pavement so they were dismissed.

I told him I missed the tanks.

 My friends, refugees from Budapest, did not.

a reconstruction.


Stones, 2013

Mixed media/ paper

20 x 24


STONES , ed touchette


Surfaced bones,

simple stones,


All rise when Odin reigns


Walker’s angel

lifts the chosen

to cross the river.

The Valkyrie’s selected comply.


Brevet immortals,

Dust in the wind,

staved by bullets,

bombs, and cold.


Collect at the gates

of the streets of death.

For honor and thanks,

and the glory of kings.


Assuage ancient ghosts,

unquestioned duty.

Honor, tradition,

and fame.


Revolt like the angels,

roll the dice for peace and

tranquility. Embrace humility.


So great has been the interest in the purely military side of the struggle

 that one is apt to forget that the war is worth study as the supreme occupation

of many great nations, whose every energy, physical, moral,

 and economic, has been put to its service, and relentlessly tested in its fiery furnace.

Henry Beston, A Volunteer Poilu



A future historian may find the war more interesting,

when considered as the supreme achievement

of the industrial civilization of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,

 than as a mere vortex in the age-old ocean of European political strife.

Henry Beston, A Volunteer Poilu


Often I think of the beautiful town

That is seated by the sea;

Often in thought go up and down

The pleasant streets of that dear old town,

And my youth comes back to me.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, My Lost Youth



VETERANS’ DAY, ed touchette


I walk Mt. Pleasant Avenue,

detour through the grave yard

reset broken flags at Veterans’ graves.


Read stories etched in stone

worn, weathered, audible

The dead cry out to guide.


What is done, accomplished,

set in stone we find history.

Hear the stories, our stories

Who we were, are, and will be,

where we went and why.


Carved, etched, worn flat

by wind and water,

draped in lichen.

Stones record journeys,

of men rent asunder

by the thunder of war,

of lives that gave meaning

to a path forward.


Like Gilgamesh they ventured

left others to carve their stories.

Some ended abruptly.

with bullets, bombs, and disease






Raymond Lowe,

Born Rockport, Massachusetts, August 1894,

Died October 4, 1918,

Grave marker, Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Gloucester, MA.

Killed in action near Breuilles, France.

The very day the Kaiser telegraphed Wilson seeking peace.

38 days before the Armistice to end the war to end all wars.

War records

On October 4, 1896, John Henry Pruitt, USMC born, little Rock, AR.

On October 3, 1918 John Henry Pruitt was wounded

 capturing 40 German soldiers and destroying

2 machine guns in the Grand Offensive

On his birthday, 1918, John Henry Pruitt died from wounds

inflicted the day before the Kaiser telegraphed Wilson seeking peace.

38 days before the Armistice to end the war to end all wars

John Henry Pruitt received 2 Posthumous Medals of Honor.

Arlington National Cemetery Records


He is dead, the beautiful youth,

The heart of honor, the tongue of truth

He the light of us all,

Whose voice blithe as a bugle call,

Whom eyes followed with one consent,

The cheer of whose laugh, and whose pleasant word,

Hushed all murmurs of discontent.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Killed at the Ford.


On Webster Street and Davis Street

two granite blocks with brass plaques

Maxwell  Parsons

Born 1895

Died July 3 1918

Joseph Mattos Jr.

born Gloucester,Ma. October 4, 1899

                                    Joseph Mattos Jr. was killed in action in France, October 5, 1918

Memorial Plaques

The very day after the Kaiser telegraphed Wilson seeking peace.

37 days before the Armistice to end the war to end all wars.


....a boy about nineteen had been hit in the chest and half his side was gone—

...he raised his sad tired eyes to mine and tried a brave smile.

... All the poor fellows look at us with the same expression

of appreciation and thanks;

Leslie Buswell, Ambulance No. 10



OXY-MORONIC, ed touchette

These wars for peace,

these civil wars,

religious crusades, and

wars to free the enslaved

that incur such debt as to

indenture the future.

Some leaders boast a direct line to God

Declaim justice and freedom

at the hands of sword or cannon.

young ones fall never to rise.

The mind of man is convoluted.



November 4, 1918—

Poet Wilfred Owen (Dolce Decorum Est)

killed in action in France

7 Days before the

Armistice to End the War to End All Wars was signed.


November 5, 1918—

One year to the day after being commissioned,

 Lt. Samuel P. Mandell was shot down. He survived

the crash of his airplane but was

 executed by a German soldier.

6 Days before the

Armistice to End the War to End All Wars was signed.


November 11, 1918—

The Day the

Armistice to End the War to End All Wars was signed,

Bells rang out in celebration.

Wilfred Owen’s parents were notified of his death.





Fleeing the potato famine,

Irish immigrants flooded

 into the United States 1845 – 1850

They fought in the Civil War

with both Confederate and Union Forces





FLASH, ed touchette



Dust in the wind.

Remembrance their only oxygen.

Insufflated by monuments,

parades, and speeches.


Wars that cleanse.

Bloody and dirty.

Not all come home to welcome.

Not all come home.


Immigrants purchase a place in line

Join the fight for good.

Believe for what they stood.

Some return to what they’d left.


The labor welding the rods.

The backs lifting the loads

dreaming of better for those

they’ve mothered and fathered.



 “We were conquered because we failed to understand that Victory is a Spirit, and it is in ourselves alone that we must attack and destroy Ialdabaoth.”

Anatole France, published The Revolt of the Angels in 1914.

Perhaps he had seen Madame Mira

another soothsayer.










The self-inflated soar

high, on self engendered thermals.



tethered by belief,

stopping by to eye day lilies—

short-lived but glorious,

laboring for all of us,

more than I for me.

Their passion begets life.


Dicks and Henrys

berate doubters.

Traitors, cowards, thieves, and liars.

Unpatriotic. Denounced by

these holy men,

these priests of war.

who battle spirits,

ghosts, and fears.


Kindled, rekindled

left unattended

while they ascended.

Destiny manifested.


Ends through means

blessed by legacy

leaving their refuse for others

to gather and reassemble.


At Gettysburg, on Little Round Top,

the air chills on a very warm day.

At Cemetery Ridge, a pall coats the field.


Methinks that what they call

my shadow here on earth

is my true substance.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick


 In closing, Satan muses that the real battle is not external, but internal to every man, demon and seraph. We must overcome our own jealousy, fear, superstition and ignorance, and cultivate wisdom, compassion, curiosity, and the love of arts and beauty instead.



October 4, 1957 

The Russians launched Sputnik

into Earth orbit, fueling the fires of The Cold War.

39 years from the very day the Kaiser telegraphed Wilson seeking peace.

39 years and 38 days after the Armistice to end the war to end all wars.


Ah! vainest of all things

Is the gratitude of kings;

The plaudits of the crowd

Are but the clatter of feet

At midnight in the street,

Hollow and restless and loud.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Belisarius





Monuments, ed touchette

Some monuments wreak

of efforts to exorcise ghosts.


We are here

Born here

of the Earth.

Take care.

Take care children,

your dreams of peace

may wilt and melt

in the heat of

sons and daughters,

the get of aristocracy.


Mothers don’t raise your children

to die in wars in foreign lands.

to drown in creeks and swamps,

to hang from trees.

Mothers raise your sons and daughters

to grace the world.



During the War of 1812,

New England states considered secession. 

Peace with England would end a blockade

that was infringing on trade.


1860, at the party convention in Charleston, SC

W. L. Yancy, one of the ‘fire eaters’

endeavored to split the Democratic Party

and secure secession for Southern States.

To preserve the way of living,

slavery was necessary.



THE DEAD , ed touchette


Shaw’s men on Beacon Hill,

Union intended.

Still we wait: For North to

recognize the South

for whites to

recognize blacks

for all to recognize the

people here before

the Italian sailed for

Isabella, Queen of Spain.

Today is magnificent

tomorrow awaits with

no guarantees.






From Mary Chestnut’s Diary:

Leaving Montgomery, Alabama with companions.

 Mr. Browne was horrified when a man was shot in the street.

 “It is war fever. Soldiers must be fierce.

 It is the right temper for the times cropping out.”

WORK, ed touchette

Extrapolation requires thought,

thought requires effort,

effort is work.

WORDS TO LIVE BY, ed touchette

Beware the vanity.

Embrace the sanity.

Ruminate. Cogitate.

Cerebrate. Deduce.



Madame Sosostris, renowned clairvoyant,

did not foresee the implications of

the patent clerk’s calculations.

 ©2020 , ed touchette

Other work credits to author indicated in the copy                                 ______________________________


The foresight of man is short, and his prudence is for ever being baffled.

The blows of fate are ineluctable no man shall evade his doom.


There is no counsel no caution that avails against destiny.

Hapless as we are, the same blind force which regulates

the courses of atom and star fashions universal

order from our vicissitudes . Our ill fortune is necessary

for the harmony of the universe.

Anatole France, Revolt of the Angels




WATERS OF THE LETHE, ed touchette

An Ode to Charlottesville

We stood beneath the lintel

Where vistas are boundless.

But crossing to Elysium,

We stopped to quench our thirst.


Blinded by the light and freedom

We anointed others to our rightful place,

Went back.

To divine with sprigs of oak and hick’ry,

Talk through cans attached with string.


Save the statues

Fly the flags

To remark the horrors.

The waters of the Lethe prompt serial delusion.

©2020 Ed Touchette

* * * *



Harry Crosby, a graduate of Harvard, and Richard Hall, a graduate of Dartmouth, enlisted in the AFS and drove ambulances. Both succumbed to war injuries— Hall instantly when a stray German shell landed close to his vehicle.

Crosby died from a self inflicted gun shot in 1929.

It was believed he never recovered

from his near death experience

when an artillery shell exploded

just yards from his ambulance.

He was the lone survivor.




Suggested reading:


The Guns of August Barbara Tuchman

The Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Coming Fury—Bruce Catton

A Diary from Dixie—Mary Boykin Chestnut

The Revolt of the Angels—Anatole France

The Wasteland—T.S.Eliot

Still Looking—John Updike

Moby Dick—Herman Melville

For the Union Dead—Robert Lowell

Ambulance No. 10—Leslie Buswell

Black Sun—Geoffrey Wolff

Op Eds, New York Times,

Washington Post—George Will

America's Longest War—George C Herring 

The Armies of the Night— Norman Mailer 

A Volunteer Poilu— Henry Beston