I Killed A Guy

                        I killed a guy exclamation point!
                        I probably killed a second guy 2
                        but not really sure so I won't say
                        I killed 2 guys. Better to know.
                        Saying straight out I killed a guy
                        makes it easier for me to look back,
                        look back, at the time I killed a guy.
                        People were running in the streets
                        screaming "Bring the troops home."
                        I was in a bunker screaming too,
                        "I want to go home tonight."
                        Damn it but I hated those flares
                        falling so fucking fast out of the sky.
                        I wanted them to last forever.
                        I wanted a spotlight of my own.
                        I wanted to be farther, much farther
                        from the wire, from the perimeter,
                        farther from here, farther from God.
                        Then all that quiet quit and the thinking
                        stopped and the shooting started and
                        the noise was deafening and the M60
                        started jamming and I was there alone.
                        And then he was there in front of me,
                        looking at me directly looking at me
                        his eyes could see into my heart so
                        I shot him as long as I could with my
                        finger hard on the trigger. He fell.
                        Another guy ran at me so I fired
                        and fired and fired and there was
                        that awful sound against sandbags,
                        I ducked. I stayed ducked for awhile.
                        If I had had a nuclear bomb then,
                        I would have shot it off too. If
                        that first guy had been alive, I-
                        I would have eaten his eyes raw.
                        My blood was boiling, I was mad.
                        I was certifiably insane, and then,
                        quiet started again. I was alive.

by Contributing Poet:     Paul M. Strohm   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   2016 )

  I Cried

                        I cried
                        sitting cross legged on the ground
                        my weapon in my lap, my helmet off
                        all jagged edges inside
                        hormonal perhaps, perhaps stress
                        I am sure there was noise
                        there must have been sounds
                        I donít think I heard a thing
                        other guys moving around
                        some in pain, yelling, screaming
                        surely some sergeant was shouting
                        policing of weapons, etc.
                        checking gooks for intelligence
                        there must have been laughter
                        guys were always kidding around
                        I think I heard a chopper, maybe not
                        Scalise wouldn't need a medevac
                        He wouldn't need anything ever
                        His limbs at a weird angle
                        such a good kid, my buddy
                        seemed perfectly content there
                        sprawled out on the ground
                        swirls of dust, a dead place
                        holding him
                        I cried
                        not for Scalise, not for him
                        I cried-

by Contributing Poet:     Paul M. Strohm   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   2016 )

  I Spared His Parents That

                        His eyes began to blank
                        His grip slackened
                        His voice failed
                        I looked around for help
                        I was out of my depth
                        I had lost interest
                        His body went limp
                        His skin had a greenish tint
                        The sucking sounds stopped
                        I pulled his body closer
                        I stared into his blankness
                        I was scared
                        We were soldier friends
                        I told him things only he knew
                        He died horribly
                        I spared his parents that.

by Contributing Poet:     Paul M. Strohm   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   2016 )

  My Last Chopper Out

                        my final up and in and down
                        no faces to explore
                        no last good-byes to say
                        some grunt pushes in
                        move over, share the floor
                      "I'm out of here!" no more
                        a whirligig of dust and grass
                        thumping hearts and chopper blades
                        staring out the gunner's door
                        everything comes to its end
                        11 months and a few days
                        an hour more or less
                        there's no one here I know
                        buddies coming in
                        strangers going out
                        new worries to encounter
                        other villages to be explored
                        long walks holding hands
                        things to be unlearnt again
                        all the shit not to say
                        just keep breathing
                        my last chopper out

by Contributing Poet:     Paul M. Strohm   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   2016 )

  We Both Have Put on Weight

                        You were barely 6ft tall
                        sweat soaked 150 pounds
                        how heavy you felt to me
                        you gurgled from the throat
                        I pounded on your chest
                        your flow of blood refused to stop
                        I put my index finger in the hole
                        your eyes went wild and crazy
                        so I pressed a bandage on
                        your legs stirred up a dust storm
                        wasn't much more I could do
                        I didn't bother with your weapon
                        I left it on the ground
                        couching low I hefted us up
                        you made a noise I'll not forget
                        my groan was well deserved
                        40 yards to the hilltop
                        I cussed each lousy step
                        you wanted down
                        I didn't give a fuck
                        one more step, just one
                        I would have dropped you
                        yes I damn well would
                        we made it back okay
                        you became an adjuster
                        I bought a used bookstore
                        we both have put on weight

by Contributing Poet:     Paul M. Strohm   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   2016 )

Bio:   Paul M. Strohm   is a freelance journalist working in Houston, Texas. His poems have appeared in, the Berkeley Poets Cooperative, The Lake, WiND and other literary outlets. His first collection of poems entitled Closed On Sunday was published in 2014 by the Wellhead Press. U.S. Army 1968-1971.

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