Picasso in Kandahar

Pablo Picasso Painting (4)

A Picasso face
with one eye a piece of nose
a dented skull distorted melted

cubism done in red black and blue
one hand one and a half limbs.
A rearranged montage
of her soldier son.

His mother turned away
in a silent scream
beyond anguish beyond tears
face buried between her palms.

She picked up his favorite
vanilla ice cream from a tray
walked in and sat where an eye used to be
touched his handless wrist
whispered his name in a maimed ear.

A low primal cry from deep within
came through his Picasso face
the sound of her little boy
now very far away
moaning for her breast.

Like a priest placing the Eucharist
in his body for the first time
she scooped a spoon
of the sacred vanilla and placed it gently
on his tongue through the hole
where his lips used to be.

He grasped her hand
still with the spoon
a tear falling from his Picasso eye

and she knew at that moment
she would never pray again.



I was a Staff Sergeant in the Army (served from 11/ 63 – 11/67) when I came down with appendicitis.  My burst appendix put me serious condition for a while.  I wound up in a naval hospital in St. Albans, NY in a ward filled with wounded soldiers and Marines from Vietnam. As I recovered, I began running errands for the hospital since I was the healthiest guy on the ward.  A few days before Christmas 1966 I was discharged to make room for the wounded.

One day I had to go to the burn unit and saw a teen soldier badly burned with a flame thrower.  The soldier behind him had been killed and his death throes set off the weapon.  Our teen Marine had virtually no face.

Then I saw his mother.

This piece simply poured out of me 40 plus years later.




The price of Honor


An excerpt from “Initial Verses – a Collection of Poems on Love, Loss, Poverty and War”


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About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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2 Responses to Picasso in Kandahar

  1. beetleypete says:

    Very moving, and all the more telling, coming from your personal experience.
    Regards as always, Pete.


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