Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Carry On, Santa   Leave a comment


Years ago, a few weeks before Christmas, a colleague sent me a story about Santa and a soldier sitting alone. At least that’s the way I remembered it. There was no attribution on the e-mail and I never knew its source, which made it hard to find after I lost track of the original post.

This year I thought of it again, as I have every year since I first received it. I checked the internet once more and was pleasantly surprised to find it on (, this time with attribution.

I remembered a story but it was actually a poem written by former Marine Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1986 and was originally published in the Marine Corps magazine, Leatherneck. The poem has been distributed in different forms since then, sometimes modifying it to honor other services. I think the message is as powerful today as when it was written.

At this time of year it seems especially appropriate to remember our troops, whether they are serving far from home, have completed their service and retired with our thanks, or lost their lives through their service. The world can be a dangerous place. They risk their lives trying to make it safer for us and deserve our thanks.

Without further ado, I offer you Corporal James Schmidt’s fine poem. I hope it touches you, as it did me all those years ago.

Merry Christmas, My Friend

‘Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live.

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I’d heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan.
I soon understood, this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.

He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps.”

With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.

I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.

Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.

I didn’t want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
said “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.”
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.

Posted December 23, 2014 by Leoma Retan in Christmas, Holidays, Marine Corps, military service, Poetry, U.S. Marines

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Remembering St. Patrick   Leave a comment

Happy St Patricks - 15Mar14

St. Patrick’s day is coming. For many Americans that means parades, parties, and green beer. Maybe corned beef and cabbage. But what about St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland and namesake of this day? He’s often lost amid the revelry.

The historical St. Patrick was born in Britain in the fifth century. Kidnapped and taken to Ireland when he was about sixteen, he didn’t hate those who enslaved him. Instead, he escaped after six years and became a priest. He returned to Ireland to bring the word of Christ to those who had once harmed him.

Some say he chased the snakes out of Ireland. That seems unlikely. According to Nigel Monaghan, keeper of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, there is no evidence among the vast collections of Irish fossils that snakes ever existed there. The land link between Britain and Ireland was broken two millennia before the retreating cold of the Ice Age allowed the return of snakes to northern Europe. Ireland’s isolation protected it, not the esteemed saint.

What is true is that by the seventh century he was revered as the “Apostle of Ireland.” He is generally credited as being the first bishop of Armagh.

Since the early seventeenth century, 17 March, the date of his death, has been celebrated as the feast day of St. Patrick, or St. Patrick’s Day. It is celebrated as a Christian feast day by Catholics, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, and perhaps others of whom I’m unaware. Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day. It is also a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland, and Montserrat and is celebrated around the world.

Celebrations often involve public parades and festivals, parties, and the wearing of green clothing. My husband, who grew up in Ireland, remembers the religious aspects of the celebrations and was stunned at the lack of this when he came to the United States. Sadly, I only remember parties, green beer, and random people wearing green clothing for the day. Poor St. Patrick was forgotten in most of my memories.

This St. Patrick’s day, while you celebrate with your friends and drink you green beer, please remember to give a toast to the one who started it all: St. Patrick, Bishop of Armagh and Apostle of Ireland. He left us with a prayer whose power may be felt even by those who don’t believe.

St Patricks Breastplate excerpt-15Mar14

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I rise today
in the power’s strength, invoking the Trinity
believing in threeness,
confessing the oneness,
of creation’s Creator.

I rise today
in the power of Christ’s birth and baptism,
in the power of his crucifixion and burial,
in the power of his rising and ascending,
in the power of his descending and judging.

I rise today
in the power of the love of cherubim,
in the obedience of angels
and service of archangels,
in hope of rising to receive the reward,
in the prayers of patriarchs,
in the predictions of the prophets,
in the preaching of apostles,
in the faith of confessors,
in the innocence of holy virgins,
in the deeds of the righteous.

I rise today
in heaven’s might,
in sun’s brightness,
in moon’s radiance,
in fire’s glory,
in lightning’s quickness,
in wind’s swiftness,
in sea’s depth,
in earth’s stability,
in rock’s fixity.

I rise today
with the power of God to pilot me,
God’s strength to sustain me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look ahead for me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to protect me,
God’s way before me,
God’s shield to defend me,
God’s host to deliver me,
from snares of devils,
from evil temptations,
from nature’s failings,
from all who wish to harm me,
far or near,
alone and in a crowd.

Around me I gather today all these powers
against every cruel and merciless force
to attack my body and soul,
against the charms of false prophets,
the black laws of paganism,
the false laws of heretics,
the deceptions of idolatry,
against spells cast by women, smiths, and druids,
and all unlawful knowledge that harms the body and soul.

May Christ protect me today
against poison and burning,
against drowning and wounding,
so that I may have abundant reward;
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me;
Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me;
Christ to the right of me, Christ to the left of me;
Christ in my lying, Christ in my sitting, Christ in my rising;
Christ in the heart of all who think of me,
Christ on the tongue of all who speak to me,
Christ in the eye of all who see me,
Christ in the ear of all who hear me.

I rise today
in power’s strength, invoking the Trinity,
believing in threeness,
confessing the oneness,
of creation’s Creator.

For to the Lord belongs
and to the Lord belongs salvation
and to Christ belongs salvation.
May your salvation, Lord, be with us always.

Where were you when. . .   Leave a comment


Do you remember where you were?  I had just reached my office and was checking the news.  The first thing I saw was the video of the towers.  At first I thought it was a movie trailer or a hoax.  Then I discovered it was all too real. . .

Take a moment today to remember the people who died just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, the people who died trying to help them, the people who lost friends or loved ones – remember everyone who was changed forever in that few minutes of time.

I am a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and poetry. If you are interested in learning more about me or my work, check out my website at

Posted September 11, 2013 by Leoma Retan in Poetry

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Heart’s Rest   Leave a comment













Hearts Rest - Image Poem - IMGP8235 - v2 - 700 px

Sometimes it seems like being in a city, or even near one, fills my spirit with the dull gray of smog.  At times like that, I find a green place, such as the one in this picture, and go there.  Generally, even a short visit is enough to restore me.


I am a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and poetry. If you are interested in learning more about me or my work, check out my website at


Posted August 25, 2013 by Leoma Retan in Poetry

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