Till the Very End

May 29, 2016



98 Year-Old Vet Dresses in Uniform One Last Time
On Veteran’s Day, Dies Hours Later
Huffington Post, November 2014

Master Sergeant Justus straightens
his lapels at noon, salutes the nurse,
and rests against his weary pillow.

Colors swim in Master Sergeant dreams—
blue of smoke, white of bone, red of
sundered limbs.

His leathered palms still curl
around grenades or comrades’ hands
in blasted fields.

His fingers still shove bayonets
in rifle mouths, brave legs churning
past machine gun spit.

Time is hard when death is all a hero
has, despite parades, trumpets, and
medals arrayed on chests.

Master Sergeant lies eyes-closed at
dusk, gloves pristine, dress blue spiffed,
eternally pressed.


“Till the Very End”
by Thelma T. Reyna
Altadena Poetry Review Anthology 2015
Golden Foothills Press








Thelma T. Reyna is the multiple-national award-winning author of four books: The Heavens Weep for Us and Other Stories; Breath & Bone and Hearts in Common, two chapbooks; and Rising, Falling, All of Us, a full-length collection of her poems.

Reyna’s work has appeared in literary journals, anthologies, textbooks, blogs, and regional media for over 30 years. She is Poet Laureate of the Altadena Library District, 2-14-2016, and is editor of the Altadena Poetry Review Anthology 2015 and the newly released Altadena Poetry Review Anthology 2016.

Other poems in Hometown Pasadena by Thelma T. by Reyna:
Grandmother’s Insomnia
Rosita’s Hands
To Charles Bukowski: About Poems




Purchase Altadena Poetry Review Anthology 2016 at
Golden Foothills Press,
Vroman’s Bookstore,





7 Responses for “Till the Very End”

  1. Thank you, Kat Ward, for your devoted commitment to our community’s writers, and for your generosity in featuring my work today. We in the So Cal region deeply appreciate your lovely, polished blog and website here, with all the outstanding information you regularly share with us all. Thank you, thank you!

  2. Kat Ward says:

    Thank you, Thelma. We’re grateful for all of the outstanding works that area writers, poets, and artists allow us to share with HP readers. Reading and seeing these contributions as they are formatted and readied for publication certainly improve the quality of my days!

  3. John Garner says:

    Nice poem for a true hero. Perhaps in the future it can be accompanied by a picture of the dress uniform of a M/SGT and not an officer. If you’re going to honor the man, then honor what he was: an NCO – a leader and trainer of troops..

  4. Kat Ward says:

    Thank you, Mr. Garner, for pointing this out. We don’t have any images of soldiers’s uniforms at our disposal, so we searched for an image we had permission to use, and our idea was that this poem is not only honoring the particular man, but soldiers as a whole on Memorial Day. M/SGT Justis was US Army, we believe. Does this work more appropriately, do you think?

  5. John Garner says:

    Yes. Thank you. As I said in my reply to your email, it is the NCO who is the primary trainer and leader of our men and women in uniform. That role is routinely overlooked by the media. NCOs lead from the front.

  6. Kat Ward says:

    Good. Thank you for pointing this out, Mr Garner. I appreciate your taking the time to respond and put us to rights. Have a lovely weekend.

  7. John Garner says:

    You too.



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