Eleven days after my twenty-fourth

Birthday, I lost a soldier. My gunner.

It was a Thursday; The sun was high

And the day was long. I bade him

farewell three days after he wished

His wife a happy Valentines day.

He told me I would be O.K. If I

Stuck with him – He knew the ropes.

Couldn’t be touched; even wore his

Spurs dead-man style – that’s with

The rowels ’round front of your boots,

Over the laces. Tempting fate was his thing.

I knew right then and there it wouldn’t

Be O.K. but in fact would be far from it.

And when my secret suspicion was sadly

Confirmed – the blood washed off but

The guilt settled into the marrow

Of my bones, where it resides for all time.

There is a feeling, very distinct

That no one should have to feel,

But does have to carry for life

When you order a man to his death.

Especially when you’ve just turned


About anotherwarriorpoet

Mathew Bocian served as a Captain in the United States Army with the Stryker Brigade and was deployed to Mosul and Tal'Afar in 2004 - 2005, and to Baghdad for The Surge in 2007 - 2008. He left the Army in 2012 and now uses his poetry as a way to heal from the traumas of war, while attempting to express to readers the realities of war. He is the recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and holds a master's from the Graduate School for Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
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