Magazine article The Progressive

Soldier

Magazine article The Progressive

Soldier

Article excerpt

Soldier

   In the bustle of passing time,
   I do not recognize you
   filling up the frame of my classroom door
   in full-dress uniform, your chiseled jaw

   and wall of a chest, only your smirk
   seems familiar--then, shocked recognition:
   Michael! I want to salute but shake your hand,
   instead. While sophomore girls giggle and gawk,

   we chat, catch up, and I venture
   a critical thought about the war.
   Unruffled and almost condescendingly
   you tell me that policy is for politicians,

   that you can disassemble/assemble/fire any rifle,
   self-extract from a mine field, call
   in an air strike, lead an ambush, execute
   and shout out orders like a machine.

   After the job is done, you say
   you won't be a loser like your old man
   who threw ragheads from Hueys
   but got his ass kicked by their ghosts

   thirty years later. I cough and change
   the subject. We laugh about your record
   for detentions in a row, and I remember how
   you used to come to see me--a scrawny,

   wounded, angry boy, missing your mother
   who fled, or bringing poetry only for me, or
   in trouble for leaving a note posted
   on your tormentor's locker, threatening

   to kill him. … 
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