Norah A. Burns


Norah came to came to the 2005 Veteran's Day reading on the Mall with her husband and two children. Her father, Donald Taylor, served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971 in DaNang, with the 37th Signal Battalion and in the Ashau Valley with the 101st Airborne Division.  These poems are written in honor of her father, her Grandfather (a WWII veteran), and a cousin, Jaworski Doucette, who served in in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I Remember You


I remember you,

so strong and handsome.

Nothing else in the world

existed except us.


I remember your

Kool cigarettes and the way

you would rest your hand,

four fingers,

slightly under the waistband

of your dungarees with no fuss.


I remember your skullcap,

the way you would roll it up high

on your forehead,

your hair curling

a perfect form below it.


I remember your eyes,

small and beautiful

always with the

twinkle of me they were lit.


I remember the comfort

of your voice when you

smiled at me.

I remember the comfort
of your voice when you
smiled at me Baby girl &
she remembers you, Daddy boy,
when she laughed back,
you being her entire world.

Then I remember...
I remember...
The noise and the screaming.
I remember the blows and the pleading.
I remember your voice,
your comforting voice disappearing.
I remember your eyes,
your beautiful eyes
glare as if bleeding.

I remember the seizures, the tumors, and the surgeries.

I remember your skullcap,
rolled much too high upon your forehead
allowing my tiny hands to run across the ruler like scar
that tattooed it entirety with dread.

I remember the bombs, the blood, the bane, and the banishment.

I remember the
Pain and anguish of abandonment.

I remember the hospitals, the meds, the missing,
and the ghosts.

I remember attempts at rehabilitation and assimilation
at its most.

I remember your strength,
your love and your words.
But most of all Daddy,
I remember to thank you
for giving me these nerves.

Time In Service

Written in living memory and honor of my cousin Jaworski Doucette Serving in Ramadi, Bahgdad, Camp Anaconda, Iraq and Bagram, Afghanistan.

With you I do this time in service
For although I am not in action with you
The risk and fear I feel are great.

For you I speak these words of support
Because I realize that nothing
More than encouragement
Can help you through this fate.

With you I do this time in service
Using my voice as a reminder to all,
That it is you who sacrifice your mind,
Body and soul for our cause.

For you I speak these words of support
Because I realize that many
Exist oblivious to our suffering
In their luxury of ambivalence without pause.

And it is with you I do this time in service
Saluting with you in pride when you return to our midst.

And it is for you I speak these words of support
In remembrance for those we shall miss.

With Your Grace
Written in loving memory of my Grandfather Roy J. Jack. Service in the Army Air Corps

I know you
Are here
With me.
I could never do this before.

I can feel it.

I know they
Wish it not
To be, but,

I can feel it.

You never wrote
Like me,
Not for lack
Of creativity.

I guess you couldn't
For lack of clemency

Your path
Was hard,
You never lost
Your whim.

I know you're getting
A good laugh
Right now
Seeing, ME?, swim


On special days like this
I call my Father to thank him for fighting
For me in the "Nam."

Some years he asks why and returns with an
Anguished, "'re welcome baby girl."
Some years he passes the phone to one of his buddies,
A fellow soldier, friend and wanderer from "Nam"
So I can repeat my salutation.

They say, "...Thank You."
Often peppered with some of the most
Well meaning expletives I have ever heard.

They breathe a sigh of relief.
They retreat one step away from their flashbacks.

I grow angry about war, about my country
And our leaders.
Yet, in the same moment, I wrestle with
The appreciation and pride of my Father's great sacrifice
Of health and sanity for his country.

For I realize in fact that these, our leaders
In D.C. and such,
Travel in circles of like minds
And agendas across this amazing planet of ours;
And to posses an affinity to one as opposed to
Another, shall only carry us another step closer
To conflict.

In the Land of the Living

My Father's will to live
Is a lot stronger than most people's.
On the outside of my headaches,
I realize this.

His aches beat within him
Persistent reminders
That he remains in the land of the living
Despite his kisses with death.
Of me, despite the lot I have been cast,
His will and strength lives in me.

Before birth, I traveled with my Mother
In the Bayous and on the Levees of Louisiana
And became woman;
But curiously, before birth, I too suffered
With my Father in Da Nang and Ashau Valley
And became man.

It remains to stand that I knew
Where I was going and from whom I came
Before they knew me.
Nonetheless of me, despite the lot I have been cast,
Their will and strength lives in me.

His high tolerance for pain and it's relievers;
His heavy and deliberate voice resisting the objectionable;
His stealthily keen awareness of the enemy around us;
And his more than resourceful and brilliant mind to create
A weapon out of the simplest and seemingly useless
Utilitarian household objects, all exist in me.
Alas, of me, in light of the lot we have been cast,
His will and strength lives in me and mine in him.

During these times, without mercy, when our memories
Come back to torture us,
Our wits become indestructible, but our bodies
Increasingly fragile.
Post episode,
And after each stay in the hospital;
And after each new prescription has been filled,
Our aches beat within us persistent reminders
That we remain in the land of the living
Despite our kisses with death.

Her Life’s Work

(Inspired by my Cousin, Sagaia Taatia Doucette, the Wife of Jaworski Doucette. For her commitment, hard work and love.)

While her husband
Serves in Iraq
She works hard
With intensity and might.
Conquering the chaos of
Her environment with
Each thrust of her broom.
A full bucket of hot
Lemon and ammonia spiked water
Kiss her hands un-forgivingly.
She washes,
As if her life depends on it,
In jeopardy.
From ceiling to wall
From wall to baseboard
From baseboard to floor
Back breaking work.
Leaving rings and notches on her
Bones as those read by
Archaeologists on the old bones
Of Homo Floresiensis female telling
The story of the number of
Children her body hath birthed
And the type of death she endured.
Or like the rings in an ancient
Redwood telling the story of its
Years after its life has ended.
Solitary work
She endures
For little pay,
Even less gratitude
And no security
Her compensation
In repay of cleaning 24 rooms
Each day…
$125 dollars a week,