Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Powder Monkey

Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Powder Monkey

Article excerpt

The powder monkey stares back

across the decades of time,

from the decks of U.S.S. New Hampshire

coast of South Carolina, 1864,

photographer unknown.

War is not for boys, yet

there you stand,

leaning with pride against a black

cannon on the deck of a union ship,

serious-faced 10-year-old

with baby cheeks

and fair hair,

your blue sailor uniform, looking like

soft and rumpled sailor pajamas,

complete with a cocked pancake hat.

the sepia-toned photograph serves

as evidence that you lived and fought

alongside whiskered men

with gruff voices,

yelling at you to bring them

powder, powder, more powder,

and you ran, with sacks,

quick and limber as a monkey-

maybe they called you monkey

as an insult to your manhood-

but I think it was more like

a tweak of the nose, said with a wink

and a nod, a chuckle

at your primal limberness. …

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