I Don’t Want To Be The One

by | Feb 11, 2010 | Poetry | 0 comments

I check my kit from head to toe: piece by piece; with purpose, slow.
Not to delay or miss the move, just meticulous; detailed through and through
‘Cos I don’t want to be the one, who cocks it up and drops the ball
As hell gapes open and one and all
need covering fire and I’m without
that extra ammo in my pouch or smoke grenade to mask retreat.
I know the cost of one mistake, a roadside bomb, a sniper’s trace
blood on the floor and in my face, bile and acid taste,
the sound of screaming kids who I command
let down by my own hand.

I lead and call my team to arms ‘check your kit boys, check your kit!’
Just youngsters and to a man, gutsy strong and full of grit.
They check their mates, one on one, to us it’s ‘Buddy, Buddy’
Orders called – ‘let’s move load and ready,’
One up the spout, pouches shut, radio checks,
Pistol, rifle and a bayonet
medical bag, water, saline mix
clotting agent, first field dressing, fracture sticks.

‘Mount up’ is called it’s a deadline mission,
Commander and Gunner assume position.
The Driver takes up the Warrior’s reins,
Fires up the tracked beast’s veins.
Diesel fumes, desert dust swirl around the floor,
As four men take their seats through the rear door;
hydraulic rams feel the strain as the door is closed to seal
these men of arms breathing hard into this hulk of steel.
No chest of medals, no ballot box, no politician’s speech
frontline fighting, contract binding service out of reach
of homeland soil, this is desert sands war above the oil.

I carry pictures against my heart
my boy, my wife as lucky charms
It’s against the rules, but who will care?
Because if I’m caught, I’ll sit and stare
into a camera before hooded men
in an orange boiler suit and then
I’ll hear the banter calls, ‘don’t worry boss, one size fits all.’
If I lose my head it’s a body bag, one size – the same again,
Union Flag and a free trip home in a brand new plane,
so Ministers can stand shoulder to shoulder, side by side,
with friends and family in grief and pride.


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