Mark I. Kirkmeyer

ALIVE?

Boone’s Farm Strawberry Wine
One dollar a bottle
“Barkeep eleven Boone’s Farm”
Drank straight from bottles
No one to impress

The aroma is pungent
Sweet as it passes the tongue
Tingles passing tonsils
Mellows, relaxes, breaks the armor
We know we’re alive

The headache in the morning
Will scream we’re alive
Tonight we drink away the patrol
We’re off until sunset tomorrow
Let us feel something

The river flows south of us
The nearest support soldiers
Thirty miles south of it.
They’d never make it here.
Bridge goes boom.

We’re here to die
So the civilians might get mad
Support one of our greatest
Allies for the last fifty years
Civvies Don’t understand the dead

“Barkeep eleven Boone’s Farm”
“How many is that?”
“We’ve got all the bottles.”
“Can’t count that high, now.”
Stomach yells I’m alive

Jesse makes a mistake
He’s off to the latrine.
Thump reports where he made it to
We’ll get him home later
At least we’re alive

“Last Call, Soldier.”
Slowly stand and head for door
The Hahk strikes at the door
Knocked to knees and hurl
Yep, still alive

Crawl half mile to the barracks
Find the rack, fall asleep
Sirens howl, screaming alert
Snap, one move he’s on the floor running
No headache, must be dead

Down the stairs to the armory
Draw weapons in boxers and T-shirt
Back up stairs dress with armor
Grab pack and duffle bag pre-packed
No feeling, no hangover

Down to formation area
Drop pack and duffle in position
Up to Company Headquarters
Relieve the CQ and runner
Though we walk we’re already dead

Sit in CQ until CO arrives;
Join my squad, prepared to kill
Prepared to die, inside helmet a letter
Last words to a daughter never seen
Walking through Limbo

“Stand Down” just a drill
No time to relax, prep time
Dark mission back into No Man’s Land
Inspection, re-load and wait
Protect living loved ones

Deuce makes many stops
We don’t use them, rolling out the back
Woodland camouflage covered with white
Weapons wrapped in white strips
Silent Ghosts travel the valley

Find our position sweep away snow
Lay down to wait GP Collier in sight
We’re out of range of most of their guns
Hahk slices over us bundled for the subzero
Cold knives burn we’re alive

No contact back to base
Stand down weapons secured
Equipment stored we can rest
One gets a pass across the bridge
Count holes in tiles drift off.