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These things I dream

need cave words --

sounds that grunt and spit

and slip-step through the mud.

Day was a flash

a smear, the whine of rounds

from nowhere overhead

a silent slump, a shoulder

pumping blood that

couldn’t hold a

dressing, wouldn’t stop.

My buddies swore to shield

each other – cave-words too.

But most of them are dead.

Nights policing

moonless quiet for what

might crawl out behind --

that’s where I live now

waiting for the bomb

the flare, the fireball glare

and smash that slams you

off your feet or melts

the vehicle ahead.

But thank you for the thought.

It might as well be French

or come from Mars -- some

Barca-lounger place

that I can’t reach.

I’ll smile and nod

and keep my armored peace.

As You Were:  Military Experience and the Arts , Vol. 12 (Summer 2020); reprinted in Disasters of War: An Anthology (Moonstone Press, Nov. 2021)

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