Novels and memoirs have the advantage of a wealth of words to tell a story, but the ability to boil down and capture the true essence of that story in a few stanzas of poetry is by far a greater art.
Author Chuck Habermehl’s book Depictions, Poems about Warriors and War, is such art. A decorated Marine Corps Vietnam veteran, his poetry describes with knowing insight the horror, camaraderie, misery, pride and commitment of men in battle that is unknown to us who are safe on the home front.
The book made me think of the great line in Anthony Swofford’s book, Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles. All wars are different, he wrote, and all wars are the same. Indeed, technology may change but the universal human experience of combat never does.
Habermehl is deft at describing that reality in his poems whether they are about the Indian Wars, Civil War, World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and or current conflicts. His poems are insightful, honest and make you think…which is always a good thing.
One poem has stayed with me. Its opening line, “IED has changed me,” grabbed me and in 18 lines changed me as well. When a poem can do that, well, it’s art.
Reviewed by: Gail Chatfield (August 2011)
For the first time, close quarters battle expert Chuck Habermehl, author of Combat Proven Tactic: Small Unit Urban Warfare and other tactical-training materials, delves into poetic writing - the content of which is not for the weak at heart. In Depictions: Poems about warriors and war, Habermehl puts the reader right there - you see the tactical and violent reality of war and the grievous effects on the warrior. Battles from the Civil War to modern war are detailed, as are the segregation of the American Indian, the devastation of the wounded warrior and the travesty of the missing soldier. As expected from a tactician, Habermehl's style is blunt and unceremonious, as seen in the poem Victory released on YouTube. The visual elements created from his writing, together with illustrations, reminds the reader that the price of freedom is tremendous and the ravages of war everlasting. Depictions has over 30 poems and is 78 pages. (Net proceeds from the sales of the book go to help American wounded warriors and their families.)