Before The Battle (a soldier’s thoughts)

I empty the trenchwater from my boots, dry socks but a memory
Dean peers over the top, sits down in the mud, lets out a last sigh
The medic’s team drags him away, south, where other friends lie.
I wonder if he saw the bullet before it blew away his left eye?

“It’s your unit now, Sarge”, the lieutenant says as he slouches past,
“Tell your men, we go over the top in ten. Stay low, fire, move fast.” 
Ma, I made sergeant. Tell Sis and Davey, tell the priest after mass.
In my pocket I feel Susie’s last letter, in which she finally said, “Yes!”.

Tell the boys at the shop, your students at school. Tell Pa in his grave.
Has Prince caught that rabbit? Tell Susie how much her letters I crave.
I will come back to you, one and all, when I am through acting brave
Dim figures beside me add new shades of gray, the night has become day.

I want to sleep in a warm bed again, and wear a new shirt, one made of silk.
But today I may die. If so, make it quick. I’ve no wish to die slowly nor sick.
“Fix bayonets!” My first command. “Shoot or stab the boche and their ilk.
Let this thirsty French soil drink Hun blood the way an infant sucks milk.”

“I’m scared, Sarge.” “Me too”, I reply. “Those not scared have already died.”
Got mit uns!” A guttural cry from men like us, though on the wrong side.
They’re as ready as we are, we both have our orders, both have our pride.  
It’s time; “Over the top!” We scramble up out of the trenches, into the fight.

One response to this post.

  1. yes … provocative!


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