We Were

We were young and fresh
and ready for a fight

We were headstrong, built tough
by the training we mastered; prepared

We walked tall, topped up with gear
and ammo and dark ballistic sunglasses

We lorded over them! They bent and squatted
in the dirt, ate rocks for all we knew, but we were

We walked the soles off our boots, endured
unimaginable lengths of time without sleep

We sweat our balls off, uniforms so crisp with the salt
from our bodies you’d swear we starched and ironed them

We showed no mercy, we detained them like flies
had too much money, had circuit boards, or were difficult

We clapped them up and hauled them off, and if you
gave us guff about taking your boy – we’d take you, too

We drank near-beer on those preciously rare few nights off
regardless of when it was, because it instantly became Friday

We laughed. We cried when our pals shed blood
We told jokes and played tricks on each other to pass time

We wore dogtags in the laces of our boots so when our
top-halves were blown off, you knew whose bits were whose

We slept standing, we slily smiled and then cheered
when the jet dropped that 500-pounder right on the spot

We hated Iraq. We wanted to fight but
we were ready to go, all the time

We had the times of our lives
And we hated every goddamned second of it

We killed, we questioned the purpose
While we had our youth killed, too

But damn it, we would go right back
if you asked us to. Because we were –

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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3 Responses to We Were

  1. I’m not much of a poetry guy, but this is stunningly good. And absolutely dead on.

    Have you considered compiling these into a book?


    • Thanks – I didn’t think myself much of a poetry guy either. I started writing a manuscript in 2006 but it got difficult; so I just began to turn those stories into little free-verse, free-from snippets – poems I guess. I’d like to publish someday but right now I mostly want to just get the work out there. And if in doing so I can help the veteran community then well, mission accomplished. Right?


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