June 6 is D-Day, and the NaHaiWriMo theme of the day is: FREEDOM.

As I create this posting, it is 06:30 at Normandy, France–exactly 70 years after the Allied invasion. This photo was taken that morning. My haiku/haiga is a small token of honor for the thousands lost that day, and for those who lived through it to know victory.

Into_the_Jaws_of_Death_23-0455M haiga

Photo taken by Chief Photographer’s Mate Robert F. Sargent on June 6, 1944 (Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

NaPoWriMo 28 – Urumuri

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a found poem, comprised only of words found in a news article. I selected an article entitled, “Rwanda’s orphans form their own families,” at  These are children who lost their parents in the 1994 genocide.

During a 100-day period in 1994, 70% of the Tutsi population was killed. Most Tutsi children who survived were orphans. Many women who survived were repeatedly raped by the Hutu aggressors and contracted, and later died of, AIDS. In essence, their children lost their mothers twice–once to the war and later to the virus.

In 1996, a group of students at the University of Rwanda founded  the Association for Student Genocide Survivors (AERG) to help surviving children. They organized what the article calls “artificial families” of  students who were orphaned/homeless. The students in these families began to have a sense of belonging again. They became their own support system. Each family elects a mother and father, who may not be the oldest of the group, but who are committed to taking on the emotional responsibilities, counseling and caring, that parenting typically entails.

Because of AERG’s work over the past 18 years, more than 43,000 people are part of a family again.

The found poem does not have to pertain to the subject matter of the news article, but after reading the article I could not think of anything else but this powerful example of family values, a miracle of love being played out in the most devastating situation imaginable. The one thing I would dispute in the article is the term, “artificial families.” These families are amazing. They are focused and caring. They are anything but “artificial.”

The title of the poem comes from the chosen name of one of the families interviewed, “Urumuri.” The father chose that name because it is related to light–bringing the light, shedding light, lighting something up.


by Jan Brown


light spreads

to the dark land

so that we can go back

to the way we were

together, as families


light stolen

from history

from children who witnessed

mothers, fathers, neighbors

taken away


light permeates

days of mourning

too young to explain

all the huge issues

all the small things


light commemorates


mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters

light is a basic necessity

to live peacefully now


light builds

relationships–together for life

claiming the peace

dealing with emotions

life in good hands


urumuri = light

for sunny afternoons in school

not artificial, yet enough

life so dark

is bright again


Rumors of War

This haiku (or is it a senryu?) is a response to a poetry prompt on Twitter, but more importantly it is a response to a distressing news report of the brutalization and humiliation of non-Russians in Crimea.

rumors of war
masked mercenaries
sadists, still unwitting pawns
Please continue to pray for peace in the Ukraine.

Remembering My Favorite Veteran

Monday is Veterans Day, and I want to say THANK YOU to all current and former service men and women for their hard work and sacrifice, to those we have lost for making the ultimate sacrifice, and to all military families for their bravery and patriotism in the face of personal hardship, loneliness and loss. God bless you.

My father was surprised to be drafted to serve in World War II at the age of 31. He and my mother had been married over a year, and they were hoping to get pregnant, but they put those plans on hold until after the war. My dad was very fortunate to come home in one piece and to observe the celebrations that followed the unconditional surrender of Germany.

As you remember the service men and women in your life, you might enjoy looking at some of their old pictures. Here are some of my dad, his fellow Message Center compatriots, and the happy people of France.

Admittedly, these are “good” views of the war and its aftermath. Today’s wars are filmed from every angle, and the news shows every possible atrocity. But I don’t think my dad needed photos of the terrible tragedies that war brought to so many. I think that veterans carry those memories around forever, inside their heads.

CPL John Brown

CPL John Brown, U.S. Army

"Five Message Center men--and good ones, too!"

“Five Message Center men–and good ones, too!”

Poker Session

Poker Session

On the balcony of the American Red Cross Casino Club at Nice, France, October 2, 1945

On the balcony of the American Red Cross Casino Club at Nice, France, October 2, 1945

CPL John R. Brown, U.S. Army

CPL John R. Brown, U.S. Army

Gathering near the Eiffel Tower on V-E Day, May 8, 1945

Gathering near the Eiffel Tower on V-E Day, May 8, 1945

Gathering near L'Arc de Triomphe, V-E Day, May 8, 1945

Gathering near L’Arc de Triomphe, V-E Day, May 8, 1945


Gathering near L’Etoile on V-E Day, May 8, 1945

Memorial Day Remembrance

Poppy -

Col. John McCrae was a soldier and physician with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, serving and dying in World War I — the “war to end all wars.” After burying one of his friends and fellow soldiers near Ypres, Belgium, he noticed how only poppies grew around the graves. Poppies had been associated with war since the time of Napoleon, when cannon blasting and trampling of rubble had changed the composition of the soil, increasing the proportion of lime content and making it difficult for any other flowers or grasses to flourish.


The day after the burial, Col. McCrae wrote his famous rondeau, “In Flanders Fields,” in the back of an ambulance. It was published in the UK in 1915 and in the U.S. in 1919, a year after his death. The poem was criticized in his native Canada after being used to promote war bonds. The poem’s call to arms in the third stanza was seen by some as war propaganda. But I believe it is a beautiful poem that honors those who served and those who lost their lives or loved ones. It seems particularly poignant at a time when we have been involved in a military conflict for 12 years in a land that is known for rocky terrain and poppies (and substances gleaned from them).


I also enjoy the song created–and beautifully performed–by Canadian composer Anthony Hutchcroft, using the lyrics of the poem. The music video incorporates a dramatic dance evoking the spirits of fallen soldiers, against the backdrop of the cemetery where McCrae buried his friend. I hope you find it meaningful as you celebrate the holiday and honor your neighbors and loved ones who have served and sacrificed.


And to you who are currently serving in the armed forces, many thanks to you and your families.


For more information, visit Flanders Fields Music.

Flying Wing

April is National Poetry Month! I am trying to write something every day, posting variously on this blog, on Twitter (@yearningangel) or on NaHaiWriMo’s Facebook page. This poem was in response to their April 4th prompt (“celestial”) and ongoing news about the worrisome situation in Korea.

USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S Dorus

dark-winged birds
fly to the heavens
war games


This majestic and powerful bird has deployed in three international skirmishes (aka wars). As much as I admire the amazing technology–and the brilliant people who developed, produced, operate and maintain it–I hope it will not be needed in a fourth.


Today’s photo was taken by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Dorus of the U.S. Air Force. You can see more at the U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit web site.