Am I a Soldier

Am I a soldier?

Hearing the stories of

soldiers going to war

Am I a soldier?

I have not been deployed

no ribbons on my chest

but always ready to go.

Just training one weekend a month

Am I a soldier?

Going through the motions—

don’t want to leave my family

Am I a soldier?

Soldiers telling their stories—

not wanting to listen anymore.

Am I a soldier?

 

 

Michael Barata has been in the Army for ten years (prior service). He was in from 1993 to 1999 as a medic and surgical tech, had a 10 year break, then went back in as an Officer in 2010. He is currently an operating nurse working at a local hospital. He is married and has two boys, ages 8 and 10. He likes to ride his bicycle and spend time with his family. Michael attended a Warrior Writers workshop in May 2015, which is the reason for the creation of this piece.

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When I say I’m a Soldier

WHEN I SAY I AM
 
When I say I am, a Soldier, I feel pride for my country, for duty, for honor
 
When I say I am, a Soldier, I feel strong in my stance, head held high, shoulder’s back
 
When I say I am, a Soldier, I feel emotions and heart, the excitement, the tears
 
When I say I am, a Soldier, I feel purpose and belonging, the comfort, the camaraderie
 
When I say I am, a Soldier, I feel whole and with reason, the mission, the cause
 
When I say I am, no longer a Soldier, I feel lost and missing, the dark, and empty ME.
 

 

 
 
James Everett Jr. is a veteran of desert storm desert shield and operation Iraqi Freedom. He spent 20 years in the military, recently retired. He has no writing experience but was pleasantly surprised how easy writing comes to him, especially when it comes to spreading the word about his years in the service. He has 3 kids and a wife.

 

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15 Minutes of Forever

2:00 am:

I wait alone, your side of the bed empty, but filled with your scent.

I smother myself deep inside you waiting to hear your voice one more time.

 

3:00 am:

I still wait staring at the monitor, filled with heavy thoughts.

What are you doing?

Where are you?

The unrealness of it all is I’m a Soldier too “I Know” that makes it worse……

 

4:00 am:

It’s you…

I’m seeing….

I’m crying…

I’m listening…

I’m loving….

You’re here with me, but not…

I feel you, but I can’t touch you….

Joy and Pain….

 

4:15 am:

You’re gone…

I’m Alone, buried in your smell again.

 

 

Dana Everett is a veteran of operation enduring freedom and recently retired after 15 years in the Army. She has a husband who is also a veteran and 3 kids. She loves to write poetry but has never published anything. She enjoys using her writing as a way to express her emotion and share her thoughts with others.

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Morning in Tal Afar, 2005

Silent dew on everything
the men under gear
spread out like shells after a storm.

They sleep under a heavy
mat of exhaustion
like grounded kelp beds, wasted under early sun.

I sit re-typing old poems,
sifting through sea-wrack,
and I my teeth want to know

why sleeping men look dead?

 

 

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TJ Reynolds writes poetry and fiction in Long Beach, CA for the vain and hopeful purpose of changing the world. He dislikes war, squabbling or even extensive horse-play. One day, TJ assumes, this will seem prudent and even kind to his three small children.

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Hello Mosul

(I am sad, your face has changed. I don’t know why, but I miss you, and sometimes I wake
with a howling sternum and for one waking second I still think we’re going back. My friends
in the dream are always eager, and then they see me, they see the drooping sad man I’ve become. I try to feign courage, but I’m transparent. They scowl at me, my fear. I am nothing if not fear
remembering close calls in stairwells and the blanked faces of the people I was told to scorn.)

              Seven stories at least, with twelve
shades of concrete. My hand knew
Death, somewhere in the middle
of this tower, as I touched an exposed
wire thinking it was a sniper or an IED.
I didn’t die though, but saw the city instead,
from morgue to smoldering trash heaps,
then descended the wobbling metal stairs
covered in lime and ghost dander.

Buildings only lie down once.

 

 

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TJ Reynolds writes poetry and fiction in Long Beach, CA for the vain and hopeful purpose of changing the world. He dislikes war, squabbling or even extensive horse-play. One day, TJ assumes, this will seem prudent and even kind to his three small children.

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Interrupted Sonnet, A Boot’s Fade

I got them at the end of a long line,
beige and stiff like new bark.

I stood taller in the mirror – the mouths
of each boot felt dry like moths in sand.
A pale, fine dust they touched first
at Syria’s shifting border.

Then East to Mosul, East over
Nineveh plain, East to fallow Tigris

where I first heard the Shahid’s cry.
Boots and Men stretch like wineskins.

(The days held hands and fled before us as we slept standing or crouched under mortar fire
those hollow chuff morning sighs we saw lambs bled in street markets as we searched for signs
of subtle hatred the white of our youth bleaching the concrete to the color of pumice or bone)

Along river banks and the giant gutters
of the city, among flies and the joined dregs

of everyone’s chai, we tasted deepest
black, the rot of a rainless mud.

 

 

ry=400

TJ Reynolds writes poetry and fiction in Long Beach, CA for the vain and hopeful purpose of changing the world. He dislikes war, squabbling or even extensive horse-play. One day, TJ assumes, this will seem prudent and even kind to his three small children.

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Mom’s Cousin

As if
touched by the
rubber and metal
talons of tragedy—
mom’s cousin
an air traffic
controller based
at Olathe Naval
Air Station during
WWII had his
head severed
from voice box
to vertebrae ,
neck blood
bubbling up
like allied
victory
champagne

 

 

PD_0155  David S. Pointer served in the United States Marine Corps as a military policeman. The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library asked to use one of David’s poems to open the first issue of their literary journal “So It Goes” for their “War and Peace” themed issue. David currently serves on the advisory panel at “Writing for Peace.” He is also a new Assistant Editor for “As You Were: The Military Review.

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Famous

 

When I said “I want to be famous among my friends”
What I meant was “I wasn’t born in a leap year.”
What I should have said was “I can’t do this anymore.”

When people ask “What was it like?”
What I think of saying is “Let me show you”
And then whacking them over the head,
Taking them to a wet fug summer
And shaving their heads bare. Men and women.
I’d PT them until I got tired, until their hearts popped,
Until the sun came up in the west.
I’d level sea salt wisdom at them, sprinkled
With wit that makes a gut distend, not bust,
And challenge their very notion of left and right.
That’d be Day One.

By Day Three Thousand Eight Hundred Seventy Two
They could learn to tie their shoes, the ones
With the steel toes made for slicing off the digits,
And when they’ve been around the world
So far
From home where the stars look different than anything
You could imagine
Constellations with names given by living memory
Equators and meridians
Slicing off the digits of the world
And stood to face the wind
and sea
and fire
and sand
And a thousand other elements
Then we can begin to talk
Of kings and queens and politics and
Duffel bags and Velcro paint and
Camouflage and

I prefer the statement to the question:
“Tell me what you remember” – “Tell me
what you liked” – “Tell me who your
friends were”
Ask and you shall conceive an answer
Tell me to tell you and I’ll talk your ears off.

 

 

go to   Travis Klempan joined the Navy in 1999. He served as a Hospital Corpsman and Surface Warfare Officer. After leaving the Navy he was accepted to Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac    School of Disembodied Poetics, where he is pursuing his MFA in Writing & Poetics.

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Marilyn

So easily she took her place in my
sterile southern life, coming from
San Francisco hills to find she loved
me and not the short haired aviator
who thought she was his.  We have
stayed together for five years
flying back and forth by letters,
telephone lines and noisy jet rides.
Long curly haired, skin and bone
lady girl that I love.
She is wildness in sedimentary browns,
nervous moving fingers, a calm thin
lipped sigh, sensual soft strength
skin stretching finely over an ivory
skeleton, delicately carved form.
She is neatly putting all her notes
bound by a rubber band into her shoulder
bag.  Together we have seen the red
beach rocks, the weaving traffic colors.
We share secret longings and telepathic
talks, miles of water matter not.
She soars through my days and clutters
my night table, gold framed bikini
bodied with a blue backdrop, laughing
lightly at me, with me.
I am watching her from my window which
looks into houses of people I don’t
know and cannot talk to, she writes
I see her alive, doing laundry, playing
her guitar, wide eyed in the company of
women who prefer women, I am waiting for
our moment, it will come.
Lady of black night times, strolling into
lives, lean, leaning, looking out for
love in the changes of faces, places,
does anything really ever change?
Mar and me, we love.  We are locked in
love, her silky body, her thin arms
her serious eyes soothe me, move me
lovers linked in mind, bone and flesh splendor.
.
.
The author, Lynn Skapyak Harlin, and Marilyn.

Marilyn (left) and Lynn Skapyak Harlin (right).

Lynn Skapyak Harlin is a poet who made a living selling her words as a freelance writer, photographer, and newspaper reporter and correspondent. Her first published poem “War Waste” appeared in Time magazine, in 1970. Her work has appeared in Street Review, Arbus magazine, Section Eight Magazine, Florida Speaks, Aquarian, deadpaper.org, A.C. PAPA and many others. Her two chap books, Real Women Drive Trucks and Press One for More Options were published in 1997 by Closet Books. She is an editor and leads the Shantyboat Writers Workshop on the Trout River.  

The Confession

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*Inspired by public speculation about the song, “Sally, Go ’Round the Roses.”

Sally went ’round the roses in 1963

For more than 50 years, her secret was safe with me
Though roses didn’t hurt her, the thorn of scorn cut deep
For girls who loved each other then
the backlash was too steep

 

If Sally hadn’t gone downtown on that fateful day
she never would have seen the kiss that made her run away
Sally went ’round the roses to deal with her pain
Hair hung down, thought she’d drown
Tears fell just like rain

Roses won’t tell secrets…and I won’t tell a lie:
I had been the other girl, the one who made her cry
The ex of Sally’s girlfriend, we were saying our goodbyes–
and that is what went down that day
right before her eyes

We lived in different times then – closet doors were closed
For those who’d want acceptance, a straight life was imposed
Sally went ’round the roses; in solitude she cried
Now a friend has shared the news that last week
Sally died

I regret I never told her: Things aren’t always as they seem–
but she couldn’t face her lover; Sally’s hurt was too extreme
So before the final farewells; casket lowered in the ground
I’ll bring roses to her funeral
for one last go around.

Sandy Stert Benjamin is a writer/poet with an interest in popular music.

No Room for Hate

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dirt beneath our feet
welcome mat beat

trampled on
looked down
kick ‘em when they’re on the ground

call ’em out
niggers, dykes, Jews
liars, cheaters
queers, spics, fatso, chinks

you should be ashamed
if you use those names
we’re all something
no one is nothing

there is no dirt beneath
our feet
not beggars
lying in brown bottle gutters
or slaves
digging their way to the grave
prostitute
on the street
she has a name
and it ain’t ‘ho

you ain’t gotta like ‘em
you don’t have to even help ‘em
but there ain’t no room for hatin’ ‘em

wipe your own dirt
on your smiley-faced welcome mat

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Author, Teresa Bissegger


Teresa Bissegger has published poetry in Illuminations, the creative arts publication of Southeast Community College, Nebraska. She has served on the editorial board of Illuminations for four years. She is a Nebraska native, who owns and operates an antiques store, Antiques Paradise, in Beatrice, Nebraska. In addition to writing poetry, she also enjoys travel and photography.

Take Off Your Shoes

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We met, blind-folded
by sun-glaze, on a ball
field in Columbus, Ohio.

You, too short-sighted to
see I was willing to go
barefoot in a crowded
stadium, drink beer while
squatting on a crumpled box,
for you.

I was too carefree to notice
you searched endlessly for
shoes, up and down, back
and forth, aisles in a swaying
sea of Clippers fans, for my
naked heart.

I panicked when my shoe broke.
Our first date. Your slender
fingers reaching inside my
lustful mind. Proving
I was a tough girl for all
your butch friends, and you,
I tossed the pair of sandals
into the closest trash bin,
looked over at your wide-eyed
shock, and smiled my best
I don’t give a damn
smile. All I need is you.

Put me on your back again.
Carry me to the car with that
same youthful, gluttonous
grin. Tell me I am beautiful,
again and again. Take me
back to the ball field. Baby,
take off your shoes.

N and A

Andrea Collins, “Tough Girl”

Year 2015 at a Glance

Cave, Cavern, Nature, Geology, Stone

If the New Year were a rabbit hole
I’d blow it up. No need to chase anything
special, no fantasies to consider differently
than this and all years before. I’d hold back,

turn to faces of Miley Cyrus and Mila Kunis,
Yahoo articles about baby bumps and twerking
rumps, videos capturing clueless passersby on

their way to vote for politicians they will never
meet, a military forgotten, colliding groans and jerking
grunts of women marching, hauling their kids and empty
bags painted in American flags, empty stomachs
and hollow chests, each one, veterans, mommies,

white shirts and star spangled ties, skinny tongues
and swollen breasts splashed across glossy news
prints mimicking human flesh. No need to consider

a year that does not promise human interests, a state
that appeals and suppresses equality of gay marriage.
They have never met me, and the chances of my right
to name myself on the certificate of a baby my wife

will soon bear are more likely given to Miley and Mila,
proud to be naked and full of human life, and legislators waving
olive colored cotton notes in linen scripture overlay.

No. I am part of the hungry, my hope long
abandoned, my service to the USA can be counted in dollars and cents,
like veteran homeless, starving women and patriotic newborns
drifting through glass doorways into welfare waiting rooms
where they’ll put their mind on better things:

Beyonce and Jay Z, Kimye and plump baby North
spending holidays in Italy with politicians they call friends.

Andrea Collins, “Tough Girl”

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Maybe I Should’ve Lied

The teacher asked
me to come to the class
and talk about flying.
He was my son’s teacher and
the jet’s always popular.

How fast? How high?
Pretty standard stuff.
I wore my flight suit
and handed out stickers even
though they weren’t toddlers.

One kid asked
if I killed anybody.
I was surprised and
shouldn’t have been.
I told him the truth.

Later that day,
in the squadron,
I asked a buddy
what he would’ve done.
I would’ve lied, he said.

I answered the question
in front of my son.
The only time it has come up.
“That’s what happens in combat.”
Next question, please.

 

Eric “Shmo” Chandler flew 145 F-16 combat sorties during seven trips downrange. His story “Chemical Warfare” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize this year. Visit ericchandler.wordpress.com to read his published fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. He’s a husband and father who cross-country skis as fast as he can in Duluth, Minnesota.”

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Duty of Care

Bayeux War Cemetery, Normandy

Not far from the breathing saline sea,
apple orchards, and yellow rapeseed fields,
rise perfect ranks of cream-coloured stones,
as if dressed right and at attention for roll-call.
The monuments, darkened by the stain of rain,
bear the regimental seal and name, rank,
and dates of each combatant, some graced
with a grieving mother’s adoring phrase.
Others are inscribed: Known Unto God

Nearby, the Bayeux Memorial commemorates
1,808 men with no known grave.

Thousands of these had drilled in uniform rows,
then endured months of dread and hours of chaos.
For them, order is restored. In this peaceful space,
wisteria flowers bow from archways, while stately
sentinel-trees shade the sharp boundaries between
grass and perennial beds at the foot of each stone.
Like medics and nurses fulfilling humanity’s bond,
gardeners tend the wounded earth with a duty of care.

 

David Olsen’s Unfolding Origami (2015) won the Cinnamon Press Poetry Collection Award. Three chapbooks from US publishers are Sailing to Atlantis (2013), New World Elegies (2011) and Greatest Hits (2001). His work appears in journals and anthologies on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Memorial Day

Lee and Meade met where the three Fates would fly
In the year 1863 during the beginning of July
There gathered exceptional soldiers of honorable mettle
I was one of many who joined in this mortal battle

1-July began an awesome scene of cruel destruction
When on a small piece of earth — McPherson Ridge — we met our foes
Then moving to Seminary Ridge and more hateful devastation
And to the aptly named Cemetery Hill, for further blows

2-July saw even more wreckage during Bloody Run and in the Devils Den
With additional casualties throughout the Little Round Top strife
Ever so near — which could have save some lives — was the end
Yes, it would have saved a life

3-July at Picket’s Charge brought the collapse of more than 10,000 men
Left in the frothy wake of this thunderous tide which had crested
A record 51,112 found their demise then
With one side proclaiming success and the other sorely tested

4-July, the anniversary of our nation’s birth, dawned
To destruction and waste, and bodies and spirits broken and twisted
This clash, now known as the Battle of Gettysburg, was finished
But for two more terrible and tormenting years this civil war persisted

I died at the Battle of Gettysburg in a blaze of fire
When at Picket’s Charge a musket ball pierced my heart extinguishing all desire
Forever more I’ll silently sleep as one of the earlier
And welcome the laying of the wreath at our tomb — an unknown soldier

Bless the ladies of the South who decorated the graves of the Confederate dead
Remember us, as you will, in January, April, May or June
And the Union families who gathered to honor their departed in Gilead
Never forget us, your children, brothers, husbands, fathers, who met misfortune

These spontaneous celebrations arose from a simple human need
And in response a special day was decreed
Not to remember the splitting of our Union, the separation
But to respect all who gave their lives, a reconciliation

Create a pleasant place for our loving mourners and guests
For today you will find more of us across this great nation blessed
Residing nearby in your town, village and country graveyards
Soldiers of all stripes in concert embracing your regards

See to it that not one soiled foot our tombs invade
Treasure affectionately our memory — we the valiant deceased
Whose bodies were battered while used as a blockade
Safeguard our final resting places that we might be released

Forget not our widows, orphans, nor our disabled comrades in need
For while I died at Gettysburg when a shot struck my heart
It is with ever more brothers and sisters I now rest peacefully
And ask that you remember it was to keep you free why we fought

So gather round our mounds and consecrated vestiges
Bring with you the loveliest of springtime flowers
Some say the delicate poppy, but any blossom will do
And raise the flag we died defending — the red, the white, and the blue

 

James Stack has published a memoir, World’s Fair, and a collection of poetry, Pleasures & Seasons of Vermont. He is currently working on a novel based on his sophomore year in college (themes: friendship, betrayal, bigotry). You can find on The Huffington Post his blog, “Postcards From Lebanon,” about his experience with chemotherapy.

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The Army Gave Us Pills

The Army gave us pills that turned us black
So we could fight at night and not be seen;
And when our tour of duty’s done they have
Another pill to turn us white again.”
That’s what we told the girls in every town
In France and Germany that we went through.
We gave them chocolates, nylons, cigarettes;
And they weren’t virgins, so we struck our deals.
I’ve heard white soldiers told them we had tails.
I’m sure a few of them peeked or they felt
My rear just to be sure it wasn’t true.
But since they didn’t know the English word
For “tail,” they couldn’t ask where it had gone.
I realized it’s what the masters did
To slave girls, but at least they lived with blacks,
And some babies were light enough, and passed,
And moved away and said that they were Greek.
I got home, married, had a family.
A while back on TV I saw a show
About the bastards soldiers left behind
In Vietnam, and what a dreadful life
They had, especially the half-black ones.
Of course I’d wanted sex: I’m just a man.
But was I also punishing them for
Losing the war but disrespecting me?
Or doing something that would get me lynched
At home, but here they needed what I’d pay?
I wondered if I’d fathered any there,
In Europe in the ‘Forties. Babies made
By white soldiers could easily fit in,
But mine would stand out. Now I sometimes think
That I could go back, maybe track them down.
But I’d feel guilty for the hand I’d dealt
Them, boy or girl; so I’ll just sit and brood.
An eighty-five-year-old man shaking hands
With some black senior citizen from there.
Perhaps he or she moved here long ago,
Or maybe came here recently to search
For father whose full name she never knew.
They’d carry an old photograph to show,
Though I’d forgotten her face long ago.
To father’s different than to be a dad.
I’ve too much time now, and my thoughts turned sad.

 

ORIGINALLY A NORTHERN CALIFORNIAN, PETER MEHREN HAS LIVED IN FOUR COUNTRIES –INCLUDING KENYA WITH HIS BEAUTIFUL COVIVANTE AND THEIR INFANT, IN THE PEACE CORPS- AND HAS TRAVELED IN MANY MORE. DEGREES IN HISTORY, WITH SEVERAL COURSES IN ENGLISH AND DRAMA, PLUS TEACHER TRAINING.  OVER THE DECADES HE HAS BEEN PAID TO MANAGE FARMS AND OFFICES; WRITE FICTION, NON-FICTION, RHYMES; ACT; TEACH; EDIT; PLAY MUSIC; PUMP GAS; FIGHT FIRES; AND OTHER ACTIVITIES. ENJOYS HAVING THOUGHTS PROVOKED –HIS OWN AND THOSE OF FELLOW CONVERSATIONALISTS AND CORRESPONDENTS.  AS JONATHAN SWIFT PUT IT, “I HAVE EVER HATED ALL NATIONS, PROFESSIONS, AND COMMUNITIES; AND ALL MY LOVE IS TOWARD INDIVIDUALS….”

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1914 the Death of Pan

Wendy to Peter
dear Pete such larks we had at Netherland
from row-boat races to sleeping in the den
the boys have eaten nothing since they tasted
bangers in bread rolls & tea from Toby jugs
how will we ever get them back to school
when all their talk is army boots war paint
and not to have to comb their hair again
I had a jolly time this summer too
though don’t suppose you miss me now no one
will mend those breeches you young son of a gun
poor Mrs. Pan must cry herself to sleep
to think that one day you’ll be off for good
don’t blame her keep your shadow in my press
so what about this war with Kaiser Bill
you shan’t go back to Eton anyways
Pop is off tonight to his yeomanry
while Uncle Fred’s already back at sea
do let us know which outfit you are in
and write me every day till Christmas come

 

Peter to Wendy
Wendy dear your last came rather late
none of the fellows here have sweethearts like you
they rag me something rotten jealousy
of course but must I write you every day
I’m so fatigued from training with the men
by dusk there’s only time to hit the hay
no doubt they’ll censor this but I should tell
we’re off to France next week and then the front
though scarcely half the men have learnt the drill
it seems we’re badly needed as we are
cold English steel the bravest lads on earth
and generals not afraid to send us in
to die will be an awfully big adventure
we’ll need some pluck against those beastly Hun
and no denying war’s a dreadful do
but all the chaps are keen and after gin
they sing such songs you’d think them on their hols
my love to both the darling boys your Mum
and till the day we meet again so long

 

Sergeant to Court Martial
it’s Kettle sir of two platoon the words
my own from notes which I have written up
day after the push our white flag out
the enemy peaceful behind their lines
I and cprl Potts of the bandaged throat
led section B to clear the casualties
from three platoon who ambushed by the Hun
were dangling on the barbs at Netherland
a pair of jaegers with a Madsen gun
had killed nineteen and wounded seven bad
lieutenant Pan here nowhere to be seen
two more deceased from thirst and loss of blood
we named the corpses swung them in a hole
then stretchered back survivors best we could
Potts did a recce of the woods and found
the prisoner up a tree sir breeches off
not a mark on him pelting all in sight
with acorn sir definitely acorn
we coaxed him down with great difficulty
when he burst into tears sir that is all

 

Private to comrade
Field Marshal French had issued a decree
no mercy must be shown to cowards men
officers the sorry lot frog-marched up
to the heath and tried before a hovel
old Captain Hook said Pan was cold a-foot
which General Fry had queered but ’twas no use
he cried throughout the firing squad hard put
to carry out the sentence what a sight
mind you said he was sorry begged them not
to tell his darling girl the dispatch read
was missed in action and succumbed to wounds
doubtless they’ll garner the truth for themselves
they shot him with his legs in borrowed pants
already caked in blood though none remarked
until next day the sole survivor owned
those jaegers scampered when their shells ran out
at sundown Pan had woken all alone
had torn himself free of his breeches though
that stunt in the oak trees is past my ken
as privately I’d say he’s better off
just rotten luck not dying with his men

 

Philip Lee was born & brought up in Liverpool, UK, but have kept the peace here in Turkey for the past twenty-two years. My grandfather, Alf McEvoy, fought in the 1st/5th battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment during the First World War, in 1916 transferring to the Machine Gun Corps; he was wounded & captured in 1918, and survived six months working as a POW in a Polish salt mine. I’m putting together a series of pieces, “war’s the pity” using figures from literature to tell different stories from the conflict. Here it is the death of Peter Pan, elsewhere Sherlock Holmes investigates the sinking of the Lusitania; while in another, JRR Tolkien encounters Adolf Hitler at the battle of the Somme.

Other work by me can be found on my blog: http://downwritefiction.blogspot.com.tr/
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Diary of an Air Force Pilot

The air is there to help us fly,
To determine whether we live or die,
To spiral, swirl, and twist in flight,
Both every day and every night.

The air is there to create a force,
With hearts of passion at its source,
The air is there as a helping hand,
To defend, secure, and protect our land.

The air is there to channel sound,
As missiles, shots, and bombs abound,
The air is there to scare the ears,
To ignite a pilot’s greatest fears.

The air is there to funnel light,
To supply a pilot’s mode of site,
Eyes focused through clouds for countless days,
Defending their nation in countless ways.

The air is there to wreak havoc and hell,
As hurricanes, tornadoes, and droughts do tell,
To create disasters for pilots above,
To hinder and torture the ones we love.

The air is there to keep us from spouses,
From neighbors, and pets, and lonely houses,
To help us appreciate blessings we share,
For loved ones so far whom we always will care.

The air is there to deliver our mail,
Across seas, across deserts, through heat and through hail,
The letters from home that propel us through,
Show the power of words written “ I love you.”

The air is there to age our kids,
From inches to birthdays, to “hads” and “dids”,
Wondering each day “When does daddy come back?”
They may have a pilot, but a father they lack.
The air is there due to Brothers Wright,
The founders of all aviation and flight,
Establishing soaring in 1903,
And setting the precedent for inventions to be.

The air is there to improve our rank,
To ensure our breast pocket shall never stand blank,
For hearts, for medals, for honors we’ve won,
Yet work in this team seems to never be done.

The air is there to trigger the rush,
The adrenaline pumping as faces flush,
From dodging, to diving, to death we can taste,
It’s the moment of truth as our hearts start to race.

The air is there to give us a job,
So our wives do not steal and our kids do not rob,
We must risk our lives until duty is through,
Insane some may say, but not “Catch-22.”

The air is there to form a pact,
A brotherhood bond that lay always intact,
For not one man shall be left behind,
A system effective and rightly designed.

The air is there to change a mind,
It’s thinking, it’s turning, it’s thoughts redesigned,
For once one embarks he is never the same,
A life changed forever from a world so untamed.

The air is there to end a story,
Some in silence, while others gory,
A process accepted yet never forgot,
Many ignore it. I simply cannot.

There air is there to protect the life,
One free from terror and constant strife,
To protect our dreams and future sights,
To secure forever our inalienable rights.

The air is there to support a nation,
To feed the breed of aviation,
To aid, to guide, to serve these groups,
The air is there to Support Our Troops.

 

Reilly Philliben is currently a junior studying neuroscience and astronomy at the University of Michigan. Many relatives of mine served in the Air Force and inspired the voice behind this piece. My hobbies primarily include ski racing, softball, and playing fetch with my two incredible yellow labs.