Richard Waring

Stop the War

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. — Muriel Rukeyser

I’m taking the train
to Coolidge Corner
when a man asks me
where he can get
a button like the button
I’m wearing saying
Stop the War.
I’m a Vet, he tells me.
He mentions his knees,
how they’re made of teflon,
and I think about this guy —
how he has war in his knees!
— and about him being
handsome and his
eyes looking dead
ahead when he says,
as if an excuse for asking,
I’m a survivor.

First published in Contact II, and most recently in The Unitarian Universalist Poets: A Contemporary American Survey (Pudding House, 1996)          


Richard Waring is the author of What Love Tells Me (Word Poetry, 2016). He hosts the Workshop for Publishing Poets reading series at the West Newton YMCA. His poems have appeared in Sanctuary, Chest, JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Ars Medica, the American Journal of Nursing, and elsewhere. He is Senior Layout Artist for the New England Journal of Medicine.

On why poetry matters: “Poetry strives to reenact feeling, lifting its complexity & singularity into a transcendent music. “