An old Army buddy emailed me
out of the blue a few weeks ago.
Found me on the Internet
amongst too many “friends” I barely know
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,
some names I recall,
and some don’t ring a bell at all.
Puts me in touch
with another buddy,
–also out, married with kids–
and I’m surprised to hear
that everyone’s alive,
and for a split second
have this whitewashed flashback
and I miss the life.
We were all old enough
to have enlisted with clear eyes,
young enough to believe
we were invincible.
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.
Wars weren’t fought by soldiers anymore
but by technological marvels
striking from a distance
spilling blood without dirtying
Before 9/11 and “Mission Accomplished”
Before Pat Tillman, Daniel Pearl and Jessica Lynch
Before 3,000-plus dead and 10 times as many wounded, nameless
Before Giuliani became America’s Mayor
Before Clinton became America’s Great Aunt
Before McCain became America’s Crazy Uncle
Before Obama became America’s Black Friend
Before it all seemed so
Fifteen years later
we’ve settled down,
married with children,
our Crazy Horse, Mad Dog
and Newport-fueled days of
drinking and driving
smoking and surviving
fucking and fighting
more or less behind us.
My friend, Scott, emailed me
out of the blue a few weeks ago
telling me about an upcoming reunion
of the guys we used to run with,
still alive, despite our best efforts.
I avoid the news
for fear of recognizing a name
in the nightly death toll
of sons, daughters, husbands, wives
someone’s friend who will never drink, smoke,
fuck or fight again.