Thursday, November 11, 2010

fiction, mostly

Weak Link

No stronger the chain,
they would say,
as they cast their glances
his way, the chances
that he would not be weakest
never even considered
as he frittered away
what they called their honor,
these colonels and better
from the 1800’s ‘til today.
Every silence, every wheel
turning against him
at the family table,
he enlisted in the fray.
Every cell of his cells
resisted his decision,
as the single-bar lieutenant’s
division went to war.
His Echo Company landed
amid sporadic blasts
on the first hot day
and by December
every ember of his pride
had darkened,
every platoon sergeant
and squad leader
hoped to frag him,
but he moved them,
against orders,
to a village
at the unseen gravel border,
where an air-strike
had been called on an emir.
There are children,
There are children,
he kept calling to the airmen,
There are children.
We’re going in.

It was friendly fire
that claimed him,
from a patriot PFC,
but the bombing was averted,
and the emir, if he was there,
and the children,
one more day,
went free.

~ Ralph Murre

As the heading of this post says: fiction, mostly. It's Veteran's Day. I've never been to war, having served less than half-heartedly in the National Guard back at a time (1965-1971) when our unit had about the same clout as a Brownie troop. Still, this poem came to me. If anyone feels that I am WAY OFF in representing what might have happened in that sort of situation (allowing for a bit of poetic license) I'll be glad to see your comments.

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