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Posts from the ‘Poetry’ Category

Delta Victor

by Eric Danache

54B Dragon soldier, not as big as a boulder, but with my 50 cal I shall cut you down to pebbles. Life is no longer rose petals, can’t seem to break off these shackles. Many men won vu-ku medals, now they live in the shadows, waiting for their turn for the gallows. Every time the wind blows at my six, I want to reach for my M4. Many times I’ve hit the floor, many men have heard the lion roar, but luckily we are carnivore and mre’s we want no more. We volunteered to serve our country, now we’re getting served arrest warrants.  We aren’t criminals, all we know is violence. All we know is survival. All we know is left, right, left, right, kill. See that blood spill. Push on over that hill. Here pop this pill. Lock and load, watch those bodies explode. You don’t want to mess with the young killer’s squad. We’ll send you real fast to the house of God. I got my saw gun, so you know I’m ready to have fun. You can try to hide from me, but on my Kevlar I got my NVG and I’m backed up by them boys of 11b. We sweated our pain out and cried out our blood. Until the day we fade away, we will always be part of a brotherhood. This one goes out to the brothers and sisters that never made it back, to the ones who are back in the physical, but overseas in the mental, to the ones trying to find their spiritual, to the families of the fallen, to the ones who stopped their grin, to the ones that everyday drink whiskey and gin, to the ones that have been through the thick and thin, to the ones that were once high speed, and now eating out of garbage bins. Never stop, push forward, you still got a purpose. Believe in the good Lord, have faith in him and know that he will always have your six. C-130’s, C-141’s, mass tac, stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door. Jump right out and count to four. Its death from above, so watch out below because we are going to tag your toe. You’re barely average son. We are the silent professionals and flow like a thirty round clip of 5.56. You are the enemy, so watch out because our divarty will land precisely and heavily on your locality and it’s your turn for group therapy. Leave you no chance to call incoming. Honestly we will leave you in pieces. To you it might seem like a rarity, but to us this is a melody. My family tree is military grown with the blood of tyranny. So now everything seems like a conspiracy. Shout out to all the Delta Victors in Cameron County, in the RGV, and every vet in all the countries on this planet. Many will never understand, but as we stand under our creator know that He will make it much better. Over and out.

Eric Tizoc Danache was born and raised in San Benito, Texas to immigrant parents. He carried on the family tradition from his father and oldest brother and enlisted in the U.S. Army after high school in 1997, where he was a 54b stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division. He completed his enlistment in early 2000. Eric has two daughters, and enjoys writing and art.

Hold All Things in Heart Forever True

by Chuck Priestley

Hold all things in heart forever true,
Love should never taste the draught of woe;
Mothers, do not mourn a son before his due.

Soldier, do you weep for those you slew?
Remember, they had mothers, too, so
Hold all things in heart forever true.

Door Gunner, hang tough and protect the crew
Over the paddies that rice and Viet Cong grow,
Mothers, do not mourn a son before his due.

House Mouse, as you shine his boots and shoes
Do you fear what the future may show?
Hold all things in heart forever true.

Letters to the home front contain no clues,
Five Hueys shot down in combat by the foe,
Mothers, do not mourn a son before his due.

Caskets draped in red, white, and blue,
Taps sounds out mournfully slow.
Hold all things forever true.
Mothers, do not mourn a son before his due.

John Charles (Chuck) Priestley II (YNCS, USN Ret.) was born and resides in South Charleston, West Virginia where he is an avid reader, Oriental food aficionado, oenophile, gardener, and handyman constantly renovating his “money pit” residence. He began writing poetry as off-duty entertainment while stationed on Hawaii. He has experimented in various forms of both rhymed and prose poetry, drawn from 24 years experience in the U.S. Navy and associated travels. He is published in Eastlit and Pennsylvania Review. Nature, Asian culture, and human relationships are recurring themes for his poetry. He holds a Master of Arts in English from Marshall University.

Know Thy Enemy

by Jonathan Tennis

Throughout the ages,
We have labeled them
To make us feel they are different
To make us feel they are not the same
To make us feel nothing about them
To make us feel nothing about their cause
But they are the same
They are mothers and fathers
Brothers and sisters
Sons and daughters
Wives and husbands
We are the same
But they have to die
Because we labeled them enemy.
Sun Tzu said
Know thy enemy
Know thyself.
I don’t know how to tell the difference.
Jonathan Tennis served an enlistment in the United States Army, with a deployment to Iraq in support of OIF. He is a graduate of Eckerd College (BA) and Norwich University (MSIA), resides in Tampa, Florida where he enjoys writing, reading, year-round sunshine, traveling, and biking. 

Trash Bag Conversion

by Chad Pettit

On a Sunday afternoon drive with my family
I stop the car in the middle of the road.
My wife panics, asks what’s the matter?
On the side of the road sits a trash bag.
It’s just plastic, but I can smell smoke
and hear the squelch of a radio.


The other drivers pass me, heads shaking.
I sit paralyzed, white-knuckling the steering wheel,
foot trembling on the brake pedal.
My wife tells me to breathe, but I’m
hypnotized by a wire that isn’t there.
My boots heel-to-toe step on mortar-shelled roads.

The radio on my shoulder demands a report.

Do I hear the choppers hovering? Hovering overhead? No.
No support this mission.
I spot mud huts and trash pile homes on the road
to the landfill city as I
figure-eight–scan freshly paved
American roads.

“Sitrep, over.”

My wife says it’s a trash bag, tells me to drive.
My heart beats to the rhythm of incoming,
and the boom of outgoing
steals my breath.
I see starving men with zip-tie bound wrists,
and sandbags covering their heads on highways of rubble.

“All clear, nothing to report, over.”

I look for the rifle they took away,
replaced with a gear shift.
I push my sunglasses up my sweating face,
take my wife’s hand, waiting in my lap
and drive past the trash bag slowly
without blinking.

Chad Pettit served in the Army Infantry for ten years, including two combat tours to Iraq. He teaches high school English and has a B.A. in English from Texas A&M University-Central Texas. He lives with his wife and four children in Copperas Cove, TX. His poems have appeared in The Lookout and The Anuran.


by J. Scott Price

There’s this valley someplace
that looked like
all the rest
though none of us knew
it contained our death.

A simple shithole of a spot
with no name on a map–no
grand historical battle space.
a trap.

So there’ll be no consolation,
no transferred dignity
for our beloveds
when reverent whispers ask,

Where did they serve, how did they die?

Thankfully, though, no unmarked graves for us.
Our buddies brought our bodies back.

But I’ve met others
since that day I named the Paradox of Pain
without that seemingly simple,

Their remains
remain where they fell
and turned to dust
in some other Nowhereville.

J. Scott Price served as an infantryman in the Virginia Army National Guard from 1986 until 2011, and deployed for both OIF and OEF. This poem gestated from events in Afghanistan and emerged seven years after his return.

The Reign of the Gunner

by Keith Fosmire

The time is now!
move with the red in your eye.
not in the S.O.P.
An elaborate dance,
performed with no thought.
Follow me,
and you will get to your treat.

Too far now!
Twenty five hundred times
we practiced this drill.
My men of nine,
with your hollowed eyes
and gritting teeth,
let’s kill this foe
and find some more!

It’s over now!
Collect your treats, Joe,
and place them in their bags.
Send them to their wives,
I can already hear them howl.
I already miss that rhythm,
that rat-tat-tat.
All of this done,
under the reign of the gunner!

Keith Fosmire served in Iraq Doara from 07-09 and Afghanistan Wardak from 2010-2011 with 10th Mountain. 4th BDE 2nd BN, 4th Infantry Division, as a Squad Leader. He has been married for over nine years to his soul mate Alisa, and is currently pursuing a BS in computer science at SUNY Oswego, New York.

I carry with me

by Adam Stone

I carry with me the weight of the nation, in a helicopter to save the world, provide relief to those in need. Rice and water, bread, Salt. We deliver, we ration.

I carry the tears of the forgotten blood. The grieving mother. The hungry child.

I carry the distant LZ, the optimistic relief. Rotor blades echoing off the land scape, a mantra of life in the shadow of death.

I carry the forgotten, the wounded, the betrayed. The one in the corner afraid to fight.

I carry the family not of blood but of design. The beat of the drummer chanting bring out your dead, bring out your dead, bring out your dead.

I carry secret hearts, of broken dreams. Widows weeping and children crying for loved ones who never return, weeping for those who came back changed.


I carry my rifle, my side arm, my chambered round, ready to engage an enemy, not realizing it was pointed at me,

The darkness of humanity, the evil inside, the silhouette-painted country, where fiery eyes pierce through the sky.

Bullets and bandages, to kill and to heal, anyone who crosses my path.

Hemmingway and Thoreau, verses I ascend with into the heavens, the raven never more.

Bruises, Scars, some of mangled form, others seared into the heart, a catalyst of rage

A knife on my hip, a sharpened tongue forged by man or god

Illustrated flesh to remember the fallen, to honor the sacrifice, a constant work in progress


Her photograph in my helmet, an altar to life, who I should be, who I once was, who I shall become


I carry with me an antiquated religion, who is righteous and who must atone, drawing a line in the sand beckoning us thou shall not kill, thou shall not kill, thou shall not kill,

I carry with me the sins of my father and grandfather, their own wars waged inside of them.

I carry with me the emptiness of a soul, left to rust in a foreign land.


I carry the weight of this life, the fighting, the defending. The providing of aid and comfort.

I carry with me, a name I have been given, Infidel, warrior, husband, father

Adam Stone is a 20-year Marine Corps veteran. He has served in multiple locations around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Secret of the Widow on the Side of the Road

by Thomas Carnes

She kneels there
Hands out
Eyes crying behind the burqa veil
The widow knows the secret
But she won’t share or tell
She wants us to find out in our own time
The world is not a splash of sepia
Through a small thick bulletproof window pane
It is bright and big with the colors of death and pain
She knows, how well she knows
Every day, no matter how hot
She sits there, her children playing in the deserted desert dying lot
She holds out her hand to every passing caravan
Regardless of who or what
She wants to share her grief, to exchange her pain, to give out her secrets
But we have a secret of our own
One that we take with us, far away, eternal and home
We won’t share it with the widow
We would all just cry
We take our secret on with us
And pass her by.

Thomas Carnes is a medically retired Army captain. He has served in the Army Reserve, on active duty, and in the National Guard. As an enlisted soldier, he was a Blackhawk crew chief, doing time at Fort Polk, Korea and Fort Bragg. He has deployed to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan as a military police officer. Currently he teaches criminal justice at James Madison High School in San Antonio, Texas.

Mirrored Eyes

by Eric Hawkins

horned owl on breathless field
feathers charred on twisted wings
eyes reflect   shattered horizon

white-tailed doe under fallen oak
branch impaled through cervix
eyes reflect   shattered fawn

man prone fractured on stone
torso smothered smoked splayed
eyes reflect     shattered dream

vultures swirl on acrid waves as
mortality seeps from natures breast

Eric Hawkins is a disabled veteran. He served ten years as an infantryman/Bradley gunner from 1985 to 1996. He is currently a student at Austin Peay State University and is seeking a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.

Steel Beach Picnic

by Joseph Couillard

I can smell the salty, sea air from the bottom of the trunk.
I let it fill my lungs, breathing life back into my oxygen-deprived muscles.
I look up.
The ladder-well is like a telescope, magnifying the holy blue sky above.
I begin my climb.
With each rung I shed a layer.
I reach the top nearly weightless.
I rub my eyes, coaxing them awake.
The waves fall gently against the side of the boat.
The sun has already baked the deck dry.
I stagger before I find the horizon to steady myself.
I sit down on the tough, textured deck.
It digs deep into my skin, but I don’t mind.
Someone is playing classic rock over an amplifier.
The cooks are flipping burgers on a charcoal grill.
Almost everyone is smoking.
The captain looks down from the bridge like a proud father.
I look to the east, knowing that is where home is, but for the first time in a while it doesn’t seem to matter.
I look around.
They are singing, laughing, dancing; all the things that just minutes before had been surrendered to the shadows of the boat.
Sitting there, with the sun setting all around us, we talk of love and of family and of how at that moment we would pay just about anything for a six-pack.
I take a deep breath and let it all wash over me.
I smile.
For a second it almost makes it all worth it.

LTJG Joseph Couillard is a Submarine Officer stationed in Bangor, Washington. He earned his commission through the NROTC program at Iowa State University in 2013. In his free time he enjoys writing, reading, playing basketball, and spending time with his girlfriend.