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A poem for Veterans Day, by Hugh Martin

VeteransDayBanner In honor of Veterans Day, we want to thank those who have bravely served our country with a poem from Hugh Martin's The Stick Soldiers (BOA, 2013).

The War Was Good, Thank You

—In the college cafeteria, a freshman girl asks, So, how was the war? 1. We live in small steel hooches shaped like boxcars. We fill bags with sand and sweat to pile beside us. Our rifles collect dust when we sleep. Our rifles collect dust when we fire them. 2. In Jalula, I stood in the turret, hands on the Fifty. I looked over mud walls and fences into backyards, alleyways. A man and a woman backed from a doorway; I watched them through dark sunglasses and the sight aperture. They kissed, then turned—they saw me. The man smiled, as if wanting me to keep it a secret. I didn’t tell anyone. 3. Some afternoons, I lay outside shirtless and set ice cubes on my closed eyelids. I let them melt. 4. After weddings, people point rifles to the sky, and fire, as if wanting to put holes through heaven. 5. Groups send care packages. There’s always so much ChapStick, baby wipes; we pile it in boxes or throw it to the children. I spoil myself with ChapStick, balm my lips even when it’s not needed. Outside the wire, I raise my chin to the sun, flex my lips, kiss them together, not afraid of anything, not afraid at all.


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