Gloucester Daily Times
---- — Once again
Under the cover of darkness
The column moves out
Weighed down with the necessities of life
Black as pitch, the bush, suffocating.
You set the trap
You settle in.
The air is heavy, steaming, smothering.
And the silence.
Lying in wait, outside the wire
You think you heard movement
You’ve set the Claymores
You hold your fire.
Mosquitos test you.
Like the Drill Instructors, the sand fleas of Parris Island,
Don’t slap at them, don’t dare make a sound
You’ll give away our position
We’ll take incoming rounds.
Your mind momentarily wanders.
Fleeting thoughts of home
You wish you were there.
Cape Ann’s salt sea air
St. Peter’s Fiesta
The Topsfield Fair.
You think of your wife
You can smell her perfume
Six months to go
It’s still only June.
You think you saw movement
Your mind plays games with you
Is it real or am I being played?
Your senses are heightened
Your nerves are frayed.
You have that feeling
Something in the air
You don’t know what
You don’t know where.
The night explodes in flashes of light
As the ground shudders beneath you
Pucker factor is beau coup.
The air fills with dust and searing metal.
Metal that in an instant can take away everything you ever were
And everything you ever would be.
Our Father who art in Heaven ...
All the while your belly is tight and
Dancing flares light up the night
Casting surrealistic shadows
Confusing the fight.
Cracking sounds above your head
Sucking sounds beside your ears
Sounds that remain with you
For untold years.
You taunt and curse the enemy.
Shrill sounds of screaming men
The welcome comforts of adrenaline.
Charlie breaks and is swiftly gone
Leaving us with breaking dawn.
We tend to our wounded and
Account for our dead
And are left to replay it in our head.
Exhilaration of survival is fleeting solemnity
For we are forced to recognize our inhumanity, and
Left to coexist with war’s insanity.
Alan M. Pothier