Generations of Duty


A celebratory libation…
or drinking to forget?
I watched my son
with the concern I had
when he was six
and riding his bicycle
without training wheels
for the first time—
an accident waiting to happen.

He sacrificed so much,
was asked to handle
more than his eighteen years.
He charged in to lands
as foreign as Mars.
He helped settle disputes
among confused people
in a troubled nation.
It had taken a toll.

Plenty of times
I remembered that day,
the day my son came home.
I pray that my granddaughter
will get the same chance
when her son comes home
from handling more
than his eighteen years
in a land as foreign as Mars.

P. Wanken

Written for The Sunday Whirl prompt #47 to use the following words: charged, trouble, accident, mars, libation, sacrificed, toll, confused, plenty, handle, ask, and settle.


  1. Long! Congratulations on that and sustaining the story. The first stanza sets up the rest of the poem beautifully, The second stanza tells the story and, the third makes the poem’s point. I do love seeing how you structure poems [yes, I did go back and count syllables, just in case :-)]



  2. Responsibilities do seem to shift from one generation to another. If a son learns a lesson, hopefully he is able to pass it to his own child/children. I am always pleased when I see lessons being passed. You made good use of the words.


  3. I had and have family members serving. This is a very honorable tribute. Thank you. There are so many untold tolls that a soldier does not share. I am in awe that they can come home most often strive to survive for their families. Blessings.


    1. Thank you, Brenda. I thought first of the Mars/Venus connection, but the quick flash of an image given to me by the words showed something different.


  4. Paula, your first comment sets the tone, a mother’s concern for her son (or daughter for that matter). Comparing the Middle East to Mars was an excellent touch in how you handled the wordle. Admiration flowing your way, Amy


    1. Thanks, Amy. The second reference to Mars was certainly the middle east. However, I think for many 18 year olds leaving home for Vietnam probably felt it was as foreign as Mars, as well. As always–I appreciate your visits and your feedback. ❤ Paula


  5. Wow. That title gives it a heft that’s hard to shake. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Paula, it’s well-crafted and the message of it comes through loud and clear. I like the repetition of “foreign as Mars” – which is also really biting, with Mars being the god of war.



    1. Thank you, Richard — I did not know Mars was the god of war. So glad for that extra connection to this story. And yes, I also liked the repetition of that line about Mars…I felt like it reiterated the generational connection. Just like you said: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

      I appreciate your feedback! 🙂



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