combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 03 Number 02 Spring ©Apr 2005

A Sentry Relieved of His Post

      We sit in a church basement
      on cold metal chairs
      over a meal of roasted chicken
      and mashed potatoes and gravy
      on styrofoam plates
      to commemorate the life of my late uncle,
      an Army private in World War II,
      a kindly though reserved elderly man,
      who lived simply and privately,
      reserved almost to the point
      of being invisible.

      Only at the gravesite
      did he materialize,
      his final moment above ground,
      when the flag was removed from the coffin,
      and the reverend said he had served well,
      protected all of us who stood there,
      his honor more for being dignified,
      for never calling attention to himself,
      who some took as aloof and indifferent.

      Goodbye, Uncle.
      Were you always on the eve of some battle,
      even in the small house on Gold Street,
      deep in your thoughts to control your anxiety,
      repeatedly checking the barricades
      while remaining at a good distance
      from all the nervous comradery
      so as not to reveal emotion,
      and to spare you, if tomorrow
      your comrades didn't make it?

by Thomas D. Reynolds
... who is a teacher at Johnson County Community College, combining folklore and history in his poetry, which has been published in a variety of journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon - The Journal of Sport Literature, American Western Magazine, Strange Horizons, Midwest Poetry Review, Poetry Midwest, and The MacGuffin. Members of his family served honorably in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.