John A. Moller

BODY BAGS

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: February 10, 2001
Awarded: February 10, 2001
Body bags slick, shining green,
white nylon zips unable to stem
the knowing of limp slack lines
and men who once were friends.

Floppy hands and heavy carry
to waiting helicopter doors,
and mates who once smiled
now stacked on aluminium floors.

Congealed blood and torn boots
by the bamboo groves
and thumping rotor blades
taking away the stiffened hands.

Stacked, flopped, almost liquid
in the obscene formlessness of plastic,
hiding the end product of insanity
and the awful work of jumping mines.

Taking from your pocket a letter
still unread, but opened by shrapnel,
and here an arm, and there a leg
neatly body-bagged, and bloody well dead.

The ashes of unshown grief choking us
along with the red dust as you go away,
now a mere dot in the vault of the sky
wrapped with your memories in a bag.