Dry places
by John Quinn

Soldiers, like Marty Connel die in dry places
they raise a shadow of dust when they fall
breath is liquid in audible "glubs,"
as life ebbs in soft red spurts,
unseen, unheard in the fog of dust.
A death mask grins until the body is moved
to leave another hollow for sand to fill.

Statistics are gathered in dry places.
Dog-tags are harvested by Sergeant Ed James.
Casualties duly and dutifully recorded
on Lieutenant William V. Chambers' clipboard,
while anonymous privates pile body bags
where the trailing trucks will find them.

Journalists quote smiling colonels,
take pictures of laughing soldiers
as they wash sand from their trucks.
It's not good taste to show body bags and
marines crying for a friend.

Marty Connel's family and Ann Miro,
a girl friend since high school, cry in wet places,
standing by an open grave in a late June rain
while the polished and pressed color guard
attend the pomp and ritual
and an old guy from the VFW stands proud
and the ceremony ends when
Mama-Jean Connel is saluted
and receives a damp and folded flag.

Copyright © 2006 - John Quinn
Published: 9/28/06   ·  Author's Page   ·  Next Poem