Well, it looks like I’m alive for another day.
My buddy Amos, a medic from England,
told me that he thinks the lucky soldiers
are the dead ones.
He says there are guys whose
whole faces cave in,
like a sink hole or a popped souffle.
All this gas we shoot at each other
is what does that.
There are some
who get blinded by the gas.
They have to walk home with their hands on
one another’s shoulders,
because they can’t see where they’re going.
Amos also told me that he had to
saw of someone’s entire leg,
then go back and saw off the other one.
The man cried when he woke back up.
He also mentioned shell shock.
He knew an Italian once, who had impaled
a German through the brain with his bayonet.
And the poor guy always
felt the bayonet going through his own brain.
The guy screamed,
Amos told me,
like nothing he’d ever heard.
Down here in the trench,
life is pretty miserable. I don’t know why
they ever thought this was a good idea,
because it was a terrible idea.
Every day, I hide behind a sheet of metal
and I blast bullets like no one’s business.
I can’t imagine how many people I kill very day,
which is probably for the best.
Rats live down here
like it’s the plague or something. It might be.
They eat our stuff and they chew on our toes.
Yesterday a cough started going around.
There’s a lot of
I saw some of my comrades
get blown to bits
when someone chucked a grenade over the fence.
I saw their faces. They were terrified.
The worst part of everything is no man’s land.
I want to meet the guy
who called it that first,
because he hit it right on the money.
I’ve seen good people go out there and
they don’t come back.
In no man’s land,
bullets fall like rain, and the gas makes the fog.
If you don’t choke to death,
you get shot down like the dog you are.
And if you do choke to death,
they’ll probably shoot you anyway just for good measure.
The trees have dried up and died
because of what happens in the fighting,
so there’s nowhere to hide.
You run out there,
pull a pin, chuck it as far as you can, say your prayers,
and meet your maker.
Of course, sometimes, I wonder
why I’m here.
Not just enlisting, which I regret,
but why any of us are here.
Why this war is here at all.
People I’ll never know wanted to be surrounded by
more people just like them.
Countries I’ll never visit stockpiled armies
that they probably wouldn’t have needed,
and they took over a hemisphere and fought about it
when they thought their slice wasn’t big enough.
(Remember when my brother and I
did that with a cake
at my seventh birthday party?)
They made promises to beat up anyone they hit their allies.
And then someone I’ll never meet
shot down a king or a duke or something,
which everyone got mad about.
I must admit that it doesn’t feel worth it.
Losing my life for my country
doesn’t feel so noble, and so I have to ask Uncle Sam
why he told me it was. The yanks came,
but now they want to go back.