Nineteen

Fresh out of high school

He enrolled in the army

To pay for his learning

Crisp in a fresh-pressed

Dark green uniform

He tries to keep standing

Tall and straight

Not fall over

Under weight

Of his mother's tears.

He's only nineteen;

Still too young to buy a beer

He's shipping out tomorrow

Off to face his darkest fears.

Nineteen and two quarters

He thinks at night of home

Of his church, his school, his family

The girl he left alone

Crisp green in his photo

Posing proudly by the flag

He now sports dirty, wrinkled fatigues

Ammo in his hand

Young boy didn't vote last year

Wonders if he'll get the chance.

Shaken out of daydreams

He's in his first real fight

Images blur; adrenaline rush;

Can't think can't hope can barely breathe

Passes two rounds up and shoulders

M-16 with shaking hands

His stomach lurches;

Has he killed a man?

Too much of a rush to check

Sweat runs down and he doesn't care

A man down;

And his heart drops

Lieutenant Brown

He knew him.  And now!

From his stretcher Brown struggles

He's fumbling; and a pistol

Emerges from his pocket, and still

Still he shoots

Wounded

Nineteen and two quarters

Too young to buy a beer

He barely has a mustache;

Yet he's lived beyond his years.

At night he holds a photo

A pretty back-home girl

He wipes a tear quickly so

the others won't see him cry

another battle passes

numb

he looks for dead

no

he looks for survivors

a hand;

sick again, he hopes

and when he touches, it grasps his own

a sense of urgency;

he calls another over

doesn't notice their

uniform colors.

Working quickly

They move the rubble off

Powder shrouds the victim;

They see her chest rise

And fall

First-aid medic rushes

Fingers crossed;

Civilian holds supplies

Young soldier rinses bloody wounds

Hands shaking

An older soldier, limping

He takes a bandage, hurry, wraps it

Round and round

The young girl's arm

Shallow breaths

She grants them

And weakly opens eyes

And what an unorthodox sight—

Wounded, she is tended

By an Iraqi

An American

A Briton

And

--someone…

but nationality no longer

matters.

Nineteen and three quarters

No fatigues but

Clean pressed green

He walks unsteady down the steps

Of the military jet

Doesn't bother to hold back tears

Embraces his mother

His father

His new wife

Holds his child with a prosthetic arm.

American Soldier

**********************

not my best poem, but I realized that I didn't portray the soldiers fairly in my other poem, so I did this to try to make up for it.  I know it's confusing, but when I try to think of war, that's all that comes up: chaos.

Tell me what you think

Remember to keep praying—regardless of what you hear, the war is most definitely not over yet.  We're just in a new stage.