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Wash the Dust from My Eyes

a year in the life of John Mason

by Nana Lampton

In this first-of-its-kind collection of nonfiction, poetry, art and photography 100 years in the making, Nana Lampton combines the journal entries of her grandfather—a World War I cavalryman uncertain about the future the war holds, yet ready to play his part—with her own poetry inspired by his writing. As she reaches back through a century to see the world from his perspective, Lampton invites the words of Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius to illustrate the timelessness of feelings that we can all appreciate—apprehension, ambition, camaraderie, and love—in the face of war and in the hope for what comes after.

What Others Say About Wash the Dust from My Eyes

Nana Lampton creates a moving meditation on war and its brutal mechanization in the 20th century, capturing the idealism and dutifulness of the young, the tedium of camp life, and the anachronism of cavalry on the eve of 'the war to end all wars.' These voices, these poems, chime.

—Richard Taylor

Through John Mason's history, we see the outer man of a cavalry captain training for the Great War. But through her poetry, we view also his imagined inner soul and the unimaginable horrors of war. The result is a powerful journey that all should take.

—James C. Klotter

Ultimately, these literal entries, ancient lines, and her lyrical envisioning of her grandfather's life become one sinuous keening utterance of the desperation of man at war and the cherished triumph of love over all.

—Jeanie Thompson


June [1917]:

The bayonet seems to be the only thing about the war that impresses the men with horror. Hardly a man but comments frequently upon the knife.

The instruction in how to stab a man repulses all: Don't thrust the bayonet no more than 4–6 inches or you will have trouble pulling it out of the flesh.

If you have difficulty in withdrawing the bayonet, discharge the piece; or place your foot on the man and twist the blade slightly.

Have a partner or two or three, attack one man together when possible.

At this last injunction, all men at the conference gasped. Throughout their lives they had been taught fair-play and here they were being coached for first degree murder of the Black Hand variety.

Bill Butler (32 Co.) a giant of an athlete was expressing his fear of the bayonet the other night, and as he spoke I wondered what some bespectacled, scholarly, little German boy would think when Bill loomed as his antagonist.


A Long Day Training

A long day across the prairie, riding for hours in formation.
Look at the light cape the shoulder of this fit horse. It radiates from
Rodney's slick coat, then slips through the blowing grasses
for miles. Watching muscle move under fine hair, I am riding with
Alexander on the Persian campaign. Trained and worked, men and
horses move together through lands they only imagined.

Trotting the hour lulls me past the day's soldier persona,
past sun-time and ego, to a day a thousand years ago
when I was a brave riding bareback, carrying a spear
fringed with dyed strips of buffalo hide, blessings
for hunting and battle. Once I was that native born warrior
watching muscle under shoulder ripple sunlight
from the horse's slick coat. Lift me up, straighten me
in the saddle, we have a long way to go.


Details and Ordering

Publication Date: January 15, 2016
Format: Hardcover, 6" x 9", 146 pages
ISBN: 978-1-936628-38-4
Price: $28.00

Please note that orders will start shipping January 15th, 2016

About the Author

Nana Lampton is a lifelong resident of Louisville, Kentucky and leads the company her grandfather Lampton founded in 1906. She graduated from Wellesley College and worked under May Sarton. She earned an M.A. from the University of Virginia where she studied with George Garrett. In 2004, she received an MFA in writing from Spalding University. An Honorary Consul to the Kingdom of Morocco, she is an active business woman whose interests include community development, historic preservation, land conservation, and the arts. She serves on the Boards of Yaddo and Fons Vitae, and on the Advisory Board of Sarabande Books. Her books of poetry include The Moon with the Sun in Her Eye, published by Fleur-de-Lis Press, Snowy Owl Gathers in Her Trove, published by Chapman Friedman Gallery, and Bloom on a Split Board, published by Accents Publishing.

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