H.J. “Jim” Smallbones

H.J. “Jim” SmallbonesJim is a serving Canadian Soldier who served at the MacDill Air Force Base (near Tampa, Florida) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002.


I remember my small hands on those brass valves
I remember the joy I had when I put forth notes thru the bell.
I have endured hours upon hours of practice with patience and frustration.
The air I get from the grace of God, the power I have in my lungs,
and the strength I maintain daily in my heart, prevailed in the notes I sound.

Many faces laughed and sang as I played with unsung geniuses in many bands
of all different colours and ideologies: all together for a thing called music.
If only the world worked this way.

Few close friends I played for with warm thoughts of friendship and happiness;
These are the moments of memories I wear like tattoos on my journey thru life
The maiden I touch and talk with so she can yield out her love thru her voice.
Her lungs and mind are mine
Her body and heart her own.

Many faces I have made swell with tears as hearts break
when I play the sorrowful notes
Before a coffin draped in colours;
As those notes are sounded
I envision the earth and the heavens taking each part of a hero home.

Between the rainy sun and the rim of the brass bore many things are seen by the bugler
who stands alone with the smell of quartzite fresh in the air.
The silence is deafening after twelve swords pierce the air like that of a devouring beast.

I play and no one but I have eyes;
I see the pastor with the helpless look;
I see faces in which I paint tears;
I see the comfort the brave of heart give;
I see the infants who carry the legacy of a hero;
I see the sweetheart not knowing of where her heart goes;
I see the son who forgets to turn off his cell phone but answers nevertheless;
I feel the Angels of God touch my heart and hold me in a warm embrace
as the notes drift out of the bell.
The last note shapes and dissipates before me but carries to the woman dressed in black.
I don’t dare close my eyes.
My work is done.

I, the lone bugler, stand dedicating a promise my rewarding work
will forever exist on earth as long as the Lord grants me air to breathe.

In a Kingdom beyond the bugler will finally rest on that day
He will put away his sword
No more wars
No more borders
No more hatred
No more tears.
Love only Love.

Author’s Note: I wrote this poem about my experiences with the MacDill Air Force Honor Guard with which I volunteered during my off-duty time while was stationed there in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002