GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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July 5, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty 1967

Once again

Under the cover of darkness

The column moves out

Weighed down with the necessities of life

And death.

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,

All around.

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.

Top-down convertibles

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

Sudden violence

Sudden fright.

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

Gloucester

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