Staying Alive

October Web Feature by W. Arnold Yasinski

Arnold Yasinski wrote his first poem when he was fifty years old and has
since published fifty others in American poetry journals. His first
collection of poems, Proposition, was published by 21st Century
Renaissance in Ireland (January 2020).

Staying Alive by W. Arnold Yasinski

On the other side of my new continent,

citizens are fighting an invading army,

something I’d hoped not to be alive

to see again. Here, I am listening to

the Bee Gees, driving beat, perfect

harmonies, and thumbing the famous

poetry anthology, Staying Alive, that

doesn’t seem to know it’s the title of

a Bee Gees song—life going nowhere,

somebody help me. Would that I’d be

as brave as the civilians picking up

rifles being handed out to hold off

tanks. Could I stand up for a place,

and not worrying about staying alive,

do it to give a homeland to the next

generation. Men sixteen (sic) to sixty,

women too, forcing their way into line.

All of us over sixties, we should be

the ones giving our last gasp of bravery,

or maybe a first. They do the urging

of a comedian become hero, who

by staying has created heroes to oppose

madmen led by a madman. Let them

be heroes! Let romance lift them,

even though war is never romantic.

Let them think so, if their double vision

allows them to defend their homes.

Let them believe. I can almost hear

the drums and fifes, famous marches

drowning out rifle cracks and exploding

shells; see the clouds of glory that hide

the blood, the limbs, the entrails.


Published by

El Portal

Eastern New Mexico University’s literary magazine, El Portal, offers a venue for the work of writers, artists and photographers. ENMU students, national, and international writers are welcome to submit their original, previously unpublished short stories, plays, poetry and photography. No entry fees are charged. Cash prizes are awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners in each category (only ENMU students qualify). El Portal is published each semester at Eastern thanks to Dr. Jack Williamson, a world-renowned science fiction writer and professor emeritus at ENMU who underwrote the publication. El Portal has been published since 1939.