Veterans Day 2015

Below is a poem I’ve composed to honor those who serve and have served in America’s armed forces.

The vets are all gone

who fought the Battle of Saint-Mihiel where

the American Expeditionary Force captured

fifteen thousand Germans and D-Day and

H-hour entered the military lexicon alongside

shell shock, synchronize your watches, and

camouflage, a term practically unused in

English before the war but soon bested by

whatever English had to offer as doughboys

prayed they were invisible to German snipers

with their scope-mounted Mauser rifles and

far from the frontline when the mustard gas came

slithering across no-man’s land through the

barbed wire into mud-spattered craters seeking to

kill and maim those in its chemical path, a road

not traveled by American aviators who dogfought

their way to glory engaging eindeckers and

dreideckers in rat-a-tat bullet-filled French skies as

the meat-grinding slaughter went on unabated

below among Heinies, Tommie and Poilus in

trenches from Switzerland to the Channel with

no room to maneuver but lots of room to be massacred

by machine guns and mortars when you went over the

top to face the enemy who would later counterattack

and become snacks for maggots as the only way

forward was to charge automatic weapons and heavy

artillery pouring down shrapnel and high-explosive

projectiles from heavens switched to hells above

and it would have gone on forever but Woodrow

Wilson got us into it and we

went over, to make it over,

spelled the difference

over there.

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