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.