Mr. Michael Marks, 41, a Leesburg, Va., resident, says he has been
interested in poetry since sixth grade, when he won a school poetry contest.
"I guess it stuck," says the defense consultant and author of "The Emergency
Responder's Guide to Terrorism."
Thanks to the Internet, his poems have made him something of a holiday hero.
A Google search for his poems turns up 1,000 links to "A Soldier's Christmas
<http://www.iwvpa.net/marksm/a_soldie.php> " written in 2000, and 800 links
for "The Sands of Christmas <http://www.iwvpa.net/marksm/the_sand.php> "
written in 2003.
He grew up in "a very patriotic household," Mr. Marks says. His father was a
Marine veteran and missile engineer. Mr. Marks recalls going out, at age 5,
"in my best little suit with my grandma selling red paper poppies to fund
raise for the American Legion Auxiliary."
He turned to poetry on Pearl Harbor Day -- December 7 -- in 2000 to express
concern after some soldiers' absentee ballots were questioned during that
year's presidential elections.
"Sitting here listening to all this, I started thinking about ways to say
'thank you' " to the troops, Mr. Marks says. That inspired 'A Soldier's
Christmas <http://www.iwvpa.net/marksm/a_soldie.php> ' about a dream
encounter with a soldier who says, "to know you remember we fought and we
bled is payment enough."
"I put it out on the Web. I didn't think it would draw the level of response
it did," Mr. Marks says. "I started getting e-mails from everywhere --
Bosnia, Okinawa, everywhere you could imagine."
That reaction encouraged him to write more poems, including 'The Name on the
Wall <http://www.iwvpa.net/marksm/the_name.php> ' about the Vietnam Veterans
"The 390th Strategic Missile Wing contacted me and asked me to write a poem
for the dedication of the Titan Missile Museum... That poem, 'When Titans
<http://www.iwvpa.net/marksm/when_tit.php> Walked' was read at the
dedication and hangs framed in the museum," Mr. Marks says.
His work is posted at the International War Veterans' Poetry Archives
<http://www.iwvpa.net/index.php> ), but also is all over the
Web -- with the poet's generous permission.
'The Sands of Christmas <http://www.iwvpa.net/marksm/the_sand.php> ' was
inspired when Mr. Marks compared his problems -- he is a fan of the NFL's
Miami Dolphins, who had "lost by six" -- with the challenges faced by
soldiers who have "no Christmas turkey, just a pack of MREs," or meals ready
His works have earned him no money, Mr. Marks said, but that doesn't matter.
He gets paid in grateful e-mails, like this one: