Mark I. Kirkmeyer


A war hardened soldier
Returns to his childhood home
His vehicle not a plane, train, bus, or car
He rides in the back of a “Deuce”

His uniform
(no shiny badges or rainbow of ribbons)
He wears faded combat fatigues
Stained with the blood of friends

(No yellow ribbons welcome him)
The air choked with charcoal
Businesses black scarred
Or just a smoldering pile

Heart of stone, sunglass hidden eyes
Caressing his assault rifle/grenade launcher
Set up a patrol base
On the high school practice field
(He played war on these roofs
Back when you got up after shot)
His Kevlar brushes his hand

Night patrol
Violating all Infantry Rules
Walking down the center of the street
Exposed to windows from both sides
Exposed to hidden fire

Feel real safe with our ten bullets
But why fear
(This is the street where he played ball
There is the house where he opened presents)

Movement after curfew
React shouldering weapon


She stops and throws her hands up
Scrubs are visible below the coat
Her face looks familiar
She’s the sister of his best friend

“What are you doing on the street?”
“I’m going home.”
“You know you are out after curfew?”
“Yes, but I just got off work.”
“Where do you work?”
“I work at the hospital.”

Call for transport and verification
Standing Guard

Car approaching
Signal to stop
It speeds up
We jump out of the way
Breaks lock up
Back-up lights shine
It’s coming back

Weapon to shoulder
Squeeze, Boom, Squeeze, Boom
Roll out of the way
Sirens approaching
The car speeds off.
This is not combat
We’re still getting attacked

All this ‘cause
Five Cops beat a habitual criminal.

This poem prompted the observation, “Differences” – ©Copyright July 5, 2005 by Steve Brandenburg