Veterans Day

one’s sinister beard no substitute for hate
one’s nice tie no solace for the being late
for the luncheon where the rolls are pucks

those in uniforms of blue or green
once drove trucks instead of whirring machines

their exhausts are now marvelously-muffled
their stacks foreshortened
their intakes inflamed
these once-warrior-kings
these dolers of dying in the lush mountain jungle
above the riverine
fingering at the rotten fish
with those soon night-padding finally
from their hill homes

boots no longer bloused
boots no longer beaten and
gravel sands no longer trod for le coup de tete
they have joined schools
they walk single-file without rank
they piss only on command
hall pass in hand
the fronts of their trousers wet

webbing, clips and bags of kit
were long ago surrendered at the CIF
where the one-eyed supply sergeant excesses entrenching tools
for the scraping of hasty fighting positions

then come the rockets
and they, these soldiers,
once-raptors now-robins
were shelled into blossoms of krill

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