War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

two poems from the family of Jonathan Snyder

I am contacted daily by either vets, serving mil. pers., family and friends of, and sometimes, and most poignantly, by next-of-kin. I am touched mostly by mothers’ messages because I am a mother. and I have witnessed the anguish of a mother (and father and brother) on the tarmac bringing her son home at Trenton, then at memorial services. I have met mothers (and fathers and brothers and wives) heading into Afghanistan. going to see where, why, how.

the following is an excerpt from a young soldier’s mother, Anne Snyder, who gave me permission to publish the poems here. one poem is written by his uncle, the second, his father.

these are her words:
I have two poems I would like to share with you regarding war in Afghanistan. I lost my son, Capt. Jonathan Snyder, SMV, at age 26, June 7, 2008 while he was on his second tour in Afghanistan (OMLT: training the ANAs). He was part of 1 PPCLI – based in Edmonton, although originally from Penticton BC where he was born and raised.

the first poem was written during Jon’s first tour. the second, after his death.

Step Carefully

Jonathan, Oh Jonathan!
Step carefully, pace well.
In your footsteps tread our hopes
In your pathways, follow our souls.

Whither goest thou, Jonny-Canuck?
Step carefully, Oh Canada
Lest you get lost
Lest woe betide you, Jonny-boy.
For this nation, bickering is borne
From our ancestors
To our children’s children
By good women, hard men.
In their shed blood
Wilderness and suffering,
Sacrifice sublime.

Your self is our self
Your presence is our presence
Have dignity
Bide of a day in those dreamy fields
Of remembrance.
Tolerance of intolerance is no virtue
Liberty and freedom are no vice
We shall all be forced to choose the path
Ere the cock crows thrice.

Jonathan, Oh Jonathan!
Step carefully, pace well.
In your footsteps, tread our hopes
In your pathways, follow our souls.

Step carefully, Oh Jonny-boy
For your every mist
Is our ocean’s mystery
Your every breath
Is our mountain’s breeze

Peter A. McGuire
April, 2006

Anne adds
This second poem was penned by Jonathan’s dad, David B.J. Snyder, shortly after Jon’s death. L.H. Ranch is where Jonathan grew up in Penticton. He had ‘adopted’ two small puppies while training a company of Afghan National Army soldiers.

Cottonwoods at Lone Hand Ranch

June 2008, no summer in Penticton yet;
the rain last week more like March or November.
Last night it hailed, then poured for six wet hours.

In Summerland, the apricots froze.
This is the coldest June on record this centennial year;
and at LH Ranch all the trees are down,
all the cottonwoods have been cut, dumpstered and removed.

And east of Zhari two dogs whimper,
Await their master who is not there;
and at the airport in Kandahar a soldier is ramped home.
His photo on the ‘National’;
his life, beauty, presence removed by chance
like cottonwoods at Lone Hand Ranch.

DBJ Snyder
June 2008


1 Comment (Closed)

Anne Snyder

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for posting the two poems. In reading them over, just one amendment. The first poem was written during (not before) Jonathan’s first tour. I have forwarded your webpage to other people who I believe would be interested in reading your poety. I haven’t read all of yours yet…but intend to. — With affection, Anne

Oct 22 2010 · 06:44

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled two poems from the family of Jonathan Snyder. It was posted here on October 19, 2010.

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