Monday, March 19, 2018

Death March

    “I’ll not give them the satisfaction,” I thought
    In a quavering voice – so many had fallen --
    I could hear the shots from where they did –
    Feeling no fear of their consequence yet
    Needing to be the good Marine – an example
    To the long row ahead, seeing their necks
    Craning to look back at me to see if I

    Still stood, thinking if I did at my age
    They too being younger might as well –
    Those who fell, we knew, hadn’t the
    Strength or resolve – fluttering
    Hands, thoughts, vacant looks when
    They thought no one was looking –
    Someone like me though, used to
    Long treks would put one foot in
    Front of the rest – losing track perhaps
    Of the steps: where they leave off and
    Another’s began – where I began if
    Memory hasn’t fatally fallen behind.
    One of them opted out after breaking
    Both hands in fights saying if one

    Unflinchingly endures the pain, these
    Miles upon menacing miles are mere
    Grunt work – whereas the enduring of
    Pain is the ultimate demonstration.
    They watched our steps for the ones
    Who stumbled, pulled them out and
    Shot them in the head – where is the

    Sacrifice in that?  Where the bravery
    In a false step?  The implications, the
    Conclusions contingent upon whatever
    Flew off with our steps, step after
    Step – there were once paved roads, but
    We were now on a rugged Jeep trail --
    Even at night, marching route-step,
    Staggering at thoughts of dropping
    Out, perhaps rolling down a slope
    When attention flagged, but best
    That I keep on.  The stars might
    Find me out.  I heard a shot far
    Back where the strength to keep
    On for those watching came from.

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