The Ritual

I get out to the trucks and open my hatch;
Check the sandbags, give a look around at
Name-tape defilade to make sure I can see
But still have decent protection. I check my
Magazines and the various grenades I keep
In an ammo can right below the hatch, near
The radio controls; I put my vest on tight,
Fasten the collar across as much of my throat
That it’ll cover. Store my helmet inside and
Pull on my CVC helmet and adjust the mic.
Sleeves down, gloves on, glasses, goggles.

One last check around at the sandbags and hodge-
Podge of steel plate we’ve rigged to catch shrapnel.
All these little bits of the ritual during pre-mission
Checks; I like my ten fingers, my hands, two arms and
My eyes and ears. I like my two legs – and I like all
My soldier’s bits and pieces right where they are, too.
You hedge your protection bets because where those
Parts end up – still attached or not – mostly results
From a cast of the die anyhow.

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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