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

Time ... It Marches On

      It marches on,
      Like double-timing paratroopers,
      Like serried ranks passing in review,
      Like a twenty mile march in full-gear,
      Like quick time gauged from heel to toe,
      Like standing inspection,
      Like strolling to the Day Room,
      Like ambling along a chow-line,
      Like crawling through barbed-wire,
      Like slogging through sodden mud,
      Like halts along the line of march,
      Like route-stepping across a bridge,
      Like scrabbling through burning sand,
      Like clambering down a boarding net,
      Like inching up a sheer rock,
      Like walking a guard post,
      Like running through the steps,
      Like striding off distances,
      Like trudging through the woods,
      Like picking a path through the jungle,
      Like stealing into the shadowed night,
      Like creeping into an ambush position,
      Like riding a slick into a hot LZ,
      Like sneaking through the tall grass,
      Like hunkering-down in a mortar barrage,
      Like reciting drills as prayerful mantras,
      Like seeking cover or concealment from a sniper,
      Like advancing by the numbers into the unknown,
      Like lubricating each action and reaction with sweat,
      Like charging ahead in a firefight,
      Like dancing between the whizzing rounds,
      Like racing to the end,
      Like scrambling over the top,
      Like pausing at the objective,
      Like taking inventory, stunned to be alive,
      Like gently carrying the wounded,
      Like blood flowing endlessly,
      Like an IV dripping life-support, one drop at a time,
      Like wrapping the dead, tying everything tight,
      Like forming new lines,
      Like feeling the gaps filled by strangers,
      Like standing formation,
      Like carrying the casket, as uniform as its contents,
      Like holding the flag and holding-back tears,
      Like sunshine scorching the rent soil,
      Like the heat-dried saliva choking each breath,
      Like the grass growing over the raw gravesite,
      Like leaves carelessly tumbling past,
      Like icicles forming on the headstone,
      Like boots crushing the new grass,
      Like memories compacting the disturbed ground,
      Like leaving flowers instead of tears,
      Like walking off demerits in the wasteland of the soul,
      Like withered blossoms torn away by the wind,
      Like pacing in the shadow of the flagpole,
      Like marking time from the beginning of loneliness,
      Like measuring pain with an hourglass, full and empty by turns,
      Until the last march down the final road,
      Into relentless time,
      It just keeps marching on.

by Viktor von Bruderkin
... who is a former Marine, a war veteran, and an amateur poet, whose work has appeared previously in this magazine.

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C O M B A T, the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones