Backyard Sniper Training, 71, by David Scott Pointer

Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace AdviserCommemorating Ten Years of Poetic Resistance, PAW Post No. 4

During the month of February, Writing for Peace  commemorates the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with Daily PAW Posts from a host of contributors.

To purchase a copy of POETS AGAINST THE WAR from Powell’s independent bookstore, click here.

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In his essay “A Monk’s Tale” (PAW Posts 1, 2, & 3), poet Sam Hamill wrote of his distress at finding a gold-embossed envelope from the White House in his mailbox – an invitation to join First Lady Laura Bush at a February 12th Symposium on “Poetry and the American Voice.” He declined the invitation and issued one of his own, a call to action that became the catalyst for Poets Against the War. His appeal, initially sent to just forty friends, resulted in a flood of “poems and letters of gratitude—and not a little hate mail.”

Why did this poet’s appeal compel so many to act? Could his simple act of resistance have stripped away the illusion of helplessness? Was it because he provided a moment of silence, a reprieve from the beating drums of war, just long enough to listen to our own inner voices?

If so, then why were some so enraged that they sent hate mail? Issued death threats?

It may be that to understand this reaction, one increasingly common in public debate, we should consider the history of American military dominance and the resulting industrial complex that has permeated our economy and culture. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower cautioned in his 1961 Farewell Address, “The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government.”

Poet, and Writing for Peace adviser, David Scott Pointer, grew up in Kansas City Missouri. Raised by his grandmother, his earliest memories are of training for battle. Says Pointer, “I would practice war, and grandma would call me inside to a little tea party, then I would update her about my progress with the enemy.” This little boy, like so many others, grew up to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. Was he indoctrinated? Brainwashed? Was his grandmother a part of some mass conspiracy to produce little soldiers? Of course not, we answer, he’s a typical red-blooded American boy. What little boy didn’t wear a cowboy hat and strap on a silver-plated six shooter? It’s a silly question…but why? Because it is a part of our collective experience…as Americans.

Sam Hamill’s call to action gives us permission to question. And when we question the foundation of who we are…it hurts.


Backyard Sniper Training, 71

By David Scott Pointer

The volunteer stepped into
a toy scenario. I had child-
sized chest protector and leg
guards, so he put those on
imitating war prey running
from fence, tree, clothesline
to tire swing under full on
enemy attack as my mother
called me from the kitchen
for lunch concluding our
live fire, little commando
training session standing
my bb gun on the screened-
in back porch floor, after
dinner I looked down for
my rifle hearing an excited
“Hey” gazing up to see
the bb, arcing between
my eyes experiencing a
multi-second blackout in
unauthorized execution
attempt of a kindly mentor
leaving mom’s chow hall


Camp Pendleton Bombs

By David Scott Pointer

In base housing,
the mothers’ want
the bombs out of
their kids yards,
these subdivisions
built atop mortar
shells, rockets and
artillery buried like
Spring bulbs after
so many wars…..
Explosive Ordnance
Division rapidly
renders the metals
safe with MP
assistance this
old iron harvest
that keeps surfacing
with the worms
soon ready for
resale to the public
in federal surplus
sales or auctions
at the online world

David Scott Pointer is a long time social justice/political poet. His father, a piano playing bank robber, died when David was just 3 years old, leaving him to be raised by his grandmother, who determined that the best way to keep her young charge from emulating his “scoundrel” father was to socialize him to be a good soldier. To learn more about David Scott Pointer, click here.



Writing for Peace News:

All during the month of February, Writing for Peace is commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with a Daily PAW Post. If you are interested in arranging a reading this month in honor of Poets Against the War, please contact us with the details at, and we will be happy to share your information on our site.

Writing for Peace Young Writers' Contest

2013 Young Writers Contest

The Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest is in full swing, with entries coming in from all over the globe.  The contest is open to writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, for ages 13 to 19. Contest deadline is March 1st, 2013. Spread the word to young writers everywhere! You’ll find contest guidelines here.


DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales,  An International Journal of the Arts

The first issue of DoveTales will be released this month, featuring poets, writers, artists and photographers from all over the world.  We are also looking forward to seeing the winners of our 2012 Young Writers Contest in print. Watch our posts for news of the journal’s release. The new submission guidelines will go up on March 1st. Thank you for your support!



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