combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 04 Number 04 Fall ©Oct 2006

A Soldier's Choice

      Too many minds in my thoughts,
      Or is it thoughts on my mind?
      No wait it's mines –
      And my torch won't help me seek or to find them
      No point in calling for help
      Our twelve lieutenants were dealt with it
      I think the devil just felt
      Was time they fell into hell
      Searching 'round for my ways out
      Map says they're bound here somewhere
      Been on my own for days now
      Who's there, does anyone care?
      That I've got no guns or no weapons
      Can't even run or safe step it
      But I can hear one of the –
      Other sons scream their lungs skeptic

      So my heart tells me to stop
      Help him
      This soldiers voice is familiar
      But then head tells me to drop
      Forget him
      To go turn into that killer
      And to take away his gun,
      Try run, duck, cock it, and pop
      At them, who blew 'way my foot
      It's dog eat dog when you're shot
      But if I leave him in soot?
      This dog will cease through the floor
      And it's his life that I'VE took,
      Just like a casualty of war
      But might he want death this way,
      To die, with pride mixed with pain?
      Man what the hells a medal when,
      You've just turned nineteen today?

      I trudge in pain to his side,
      My brain is so undecided
      I've never felt so alive,
      At same time felt like I'd died
      Conscience is stronger, I'm sure
      My morals – Reap what ye sow
      His life is bleeding for war
      Seeping right out of his pores
      Blood clots, with ligament drips
      Gun-shots, they leave you in bits!
      He's like an empty pit, with
      Intestines to appendix
      All rendered shredded to bits
      Countless bowels need to be fixed
      His chest is so molested
      His lungs, they breath through his ribs

      So could we make it to base?
      War is no game, for God's Sake
      We can't reset or replay it!
      When someone's REAL death has come
      So I look up at his face
      Smothered in blood, I just gape
      He slept next to my hammock, man!
      I hope he has something to say
      And I know that he's brave,
      There's no way this is his grave
      But as MY heart's in MY stomach,
      Hope I don't fail you, young James
      Your surname will remain, though
      So only me and you know it
      And instead of speaking for fame
      I'll be concealing this poet

      James has a family, he told me
      In this world, they were his only
      Two little girls at home,
      He felt that he had dis-owned them
      Each night with tears in his eyes
      Mixed feelings, fears and despise
      He used to tell me these reasons
      Of why he's bleeding inside
      Why wasn't he the good father,
      He always wanted to be?
      He used to pray to Our Father
      "Please God allow me to see!
      My only prides and my joys"
      And that included the mother
      He always wanted boys, but
      Soon as he saw them, he loved them

      With all his heart and his soul
      But now his heart has this hole
      It came from enemy lines
      Bullets flew right past his door
      He grabs my hand with his hand
      His fingers barely have strength
      And asks: "What happened you man?"
      While I see his wrenched chest infected
      "I won't make it!", he's frowning
      "I've broken my promises!"
      I say: "Shhh, just lay down"
      Trying to figure a synopsis
      Do I put pressure on it?
      I'm a soldier! I'm not a doctor!
      He said "I'm dying, I feel it"
      I tell him: "I swear, that's a chopper!"

      Maybe I'll scream for help,
      They're gonna hear us this time!
      "Help!" Can you see that we're here?!
      Because we see you there flying!
      He's yelling "Promises!"
      Too late, our choppers long gone
      "Listen, I've promised my kids,
      I'd never leave them at home,
      Promised them both on my life
      There'd be a husband and wife
      Which means two parents to be
      Their guides through life, be their lights"
      "There'll be no darkness my babies
      We are your sound, we're your sight,
      Decisions you'll need to make?
      We'll be the ones by your side"

      "I don't wanna die here" he said
      I yelled "I'll take you with lead!"
      My legs are feeling all wedged
      But I'd kill myself if I'd fled
      Us two, we're built for this war
      Same time both living as hostages
      I could have run away, sure
      but I stopped, considered my options
      Could have continued poppin'
      But this civilian in costume
      Would've been finished unproperly
      So glad conscience got atop me?
      Bullets fire

      But now, it seems that this plan
      Backfired –
      You see that this man
      Took fire –
      It's leaking like sand
      This governments lied –
      Why we both fight for these smilers?
      Dough-grabbers, laughers, back-stabbers
      They're liars reading one liners,
      When they're in front of that camera!
      I try to figure my wounds
      Same time, adrenaline booms
      I've took him up in my arms
      My eyes, they clocked with a zoom

      The base was near, I could see it!
      There creeping neatly through trees
      Something just flew through me too, but
      I know I'm destined to reach
      With one foot carrying his body
      My heart is racing too fast
      'We're gonna make it my buddy!'
      I feel so free, nearly passed –
      The worst, the base looks near now
      I swear I'm flying on acid,
      There's nothing left to fear now
      I'm really calm, really placid
      Holding his soul in my arms
      Don't feel no holes in my arms
      One thing swarms my brain though –
      Suppose I never enrolled in the army?
      But then it comes, the pain
      I just fall down to my knees
      Have I just made a mistake?
      As troops are rounding on me
      And James is taken away
      Straight away, I start to pray
      I pass out
      I just lay
      And see a couple of angels

      So now five years on,
      From when I felt I was free
      All those shed tears? Gone!
      No-one remembers poor me –
      I took in six bullets –
      He took in five to his chest
      One of us survived when they pulled them
      Take one guess who ends up dead –
      So I'm asking for a reason
      Please give to me at least one
      For why my country needed me
      And in my hands was this gun
      Because we've all lost
      Loved ones –
      We'll never forget
      We are the sons of someone
      Mothers –
      Forever respect –
      So if it's one choice
      Between your life or HIS death
      This kid is one of your boys
      Who's near the end of his breath
      Would you help out a soldier?
      Could spoil your hopes and your dreams
      But maybe when you're older
      His smile forever will beam
      At you,
      That's the soldiers choice!

by Dermot Robert Fahy
... who is a work-study student at a university management course in London (UK), while writing lyrics and poetry in his Irish tradition. The grandson of Great War veterans, this piece was inspired by the death of a British soldier in Iraq, the uncle of a friend.

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