Anthony W. Pahl

STAND TO

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: January 17, 2003
Awarded: January 17, 2003
In the silence and the waiting
in the hour before the dawn
demons and evil spirits,
among the mists of fear, take form
From grave-like, red mud trenches
where home is just a dream
Seep the wraiths of unformed terrors
and the silent need to scream.

The long shadows on the killing fields
move with the rising sun
And the only reality that is real
is the solid reality of the gun
Vision acuter and hearing sharper
than they have ever been
While waiting in silence, all alone,
with the silent need to scream.

Drenched in sweat and monsoon rains
with mouth as dry as death
Lungs and throat on fire;
reminders to gulp one more living breath
Unclean fingers caressing triggers
to kill the real and the unseen
An ounce of pressure to drive away
the silent need to scream.

In jungle-rotted combat boots,
white corpse-like feet feel naught
The gentle touch of the girl back home
is given not a thought
The sun ascends in the daytime sky;
the light seems new and clean.
Another dawn and the urge has passed
for the silent need to scream.

Submitted for the October 2002 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “Combat Boots”, this poem prompted the response, “Sombering” ©Copyright January 16, 2003 by Charles J. Ingerson