Bury Me in the Leaning Rest
C-130 rollin’ down the strip
Airborne Daddy gonna take a little trip
Mission Top Secret
He don’t know if he’s ever coming home…
An old Army buddy emailed me
out of the blue a while back.
Found me on the Internet
amongst too many “friends” I barely knew
and wouldn’t take a bullet for.
Fills me in
on the guys we used to run with,
some in, some out,
some completely off the grid.
He puts me in touch with one
whose name rings a bell
–out now, married with kids–
and I’m surprised to hear him say
that we’re all alive
and more or less well.
I have this whitewashed flashback
and a part of me misses it all.
We were old enough
to have enlisted with clear eyes;
young enough to believe
we were invincible.
Wars were no longer fought
by soldiers, but by technology
striking from the sky,
opportunists spilling blood
without raising too much
of a fuss.
Complaining Democrats counting
even less now than they did
in the Clinton Years
of “don’t ask, don’t tell”.
More practical than patriotic
we terrorized the bars and women
of Clarksville and Nashville, TN
–an occupying force training in their backyard
to fight in a war we were all sure
would never come.
Before 2/26, 9/11 and “Mission Accomplished”.
Before John DiGiovanni, Bob Kirkpatrick, Steven Knapp, Bill Macko, Wilfred Mercado and Monica Rodriguez.
Before 6,000-plus dead and 10 times as many wounded,
—most nameless, before, during and after.
Before one weekend a month, two weeks a year
became, “He don’t know if he’s ever coming home…”
Before it all seemed so
My old friend, Scott, emailed me
out of the blue a telling me
about an upcoming reunion
of the guys we used to run with,
still alive, Will tells me,
despite some of our best efforts.
Fifteen years later
we’ve settled down,
married with children,
our Crazy Horse, Mad Dog
and Newport-fueled days
of drinking and driving
fucking and fighting
smoking and surviving
more or less behind us.
I avoided the news
for fear of recognizing a name
in the nightly death toll
of sons, daughters, husbands and wives
who will never drink, smoke, fuck or fight again.
Stand up, buckle up, shuffle to the door
Jump right out and count to four.
If I die in a combat zone
Box me up and ship me home.
Pin my wings upon my chest
And bury me in the leaning rest.