Echo Taps

Today is Memorial Day here in the USA.  For the past couple of years, a local group has taken  part in an effort called EchoTaps – making a line of bugle players across town, from one cemetery to another, playing a chain of “taps” one after the next.  They do it in November for Veterans Day, but to me it would be just as appropriate for Memorial Day, remembering all those who have died in war, and all the families and friends who have a hole left in their lives.  It is always a moving experience to stand out on our street and listen.  I tried to catch a little of last year’s event in this poem (the form is a bop).  Here it is, for all who remember today…

Echo Taps

All the way to school, we see the small flags
stuck in the ground, each with its own number,
planted with dignity in stony soil,
anonymous integers adding up
the cost of sacrifice – a mother’s tears,
an empty room, a raft of nights wide-eyed

each one unique in this unbroken line.

Flag number thirty-nine is on our block.
I clutch my arms around me in the breeze
and watch a kid dressed in his Sunday best
hold his horn, fingering it nervously.
From some distant point, taps is echoing
towards us, from one player to the next.
A car pulls up, and the driver gets out.
We all listen, heads bowed, to the bugles,

each one unique in this unbroken line.

At his appointed time, our young man plays
the aching beauty of an elegy,
gone far too soon, swallowed up in the wind.
This singular loss is enough for me,
a tiny glimpse into the greater pain,
and pride, of every family that serves

each one unique in this unbroken line.



About Andrew Kreider

I'm a poet and musician,transplanted from London, England to beautiful northern Indiana. By day I am a stay-at-home dad with our three kids while my amazingly talented spouse conquers medical school one long shift at a time. At night, I'm a performer and trouble-maker. I love my life.

8 responses »

  1. Wow Andrew, you really gave me goosebumps! Still rubbing my arms over that one. Perfect ending and the thought of taps in that unbroken line–felt like I was there–wish I had been…

  2. Don’t know what makes me more emotional: the concept of this type of memorial tribute or your description of it and how it affected you.

  3. hearing taps is so evocative…it is unmistakable you know…i am glad to see that places wtill honor memorial day like that though…we had little here sadly…

    anonymous integers adding up
    the cost of sacrifice

    is a really great line….

  4. Poignant subject matter, expressed so very well.

    Really like the repeating lines as well. Truly do link the entire thing together.

  5. Beautiful poem and a beautiful way to celebrate either Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day. Thanks for sharing both.

  6. A lovely tradition, beautifully described by you. k.

  7. Memorial Day is hard when you’re a pacifist. Harder still when Veterans for Peace, instead of lining a full mile of the avenue by the lake with flags, line it with pairs of headstones, exact numbers of the troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of headstones, and I cried all the way. I find no glory in war, but I honor those who serve… it’s their bosses, who never get in harm’s way, that I cannot abide. Thanks for the food for thought, Andrew. Peace, Amy

  8. Pingback: Taps echo | Gofites

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