The parachute on your back
Delivers you to solid earth
Thousands of feet below.
Soon you'll be on the drop zone
Listening to the aircraft's hum fade,
Your heart threshing in your chest.
Subdued jump wings on your chest,
And sixty-five pounds in the pack on your back
Fill you with pride, but the war makes it fade.
You enter a scene anywhere on earth
Where economies meet in a combat zone.
Effortlessly, hawks swoop on prey below.
Teams fire and maneuver in the valley below.
Gaining ground by crawling on your chest,
You cross the demilitarized zone,
Take your stand, and don't turn back.
Plant your flag on this plot of earth
As the enemy's aggressiveness begins to fade.
The blast of artillery will echo and fade.
You scuttle to bunkers and sprawl below
Parapets of sandbags filled with earth.
You remove the bandoleer across your chest
And prepare for the attack. "They're back,"
You say. "After they cross that buffer zone,
They'll try to reach the Frigid Zone."
The tracers dance and fade
As you spot a target. The enemy fires back.
Blood flows from below
The jump wings on your chest.
Your nostrils seize the scent of earth.
You are consumed by the earth
And enter yet another zone
Where the pain in your chest
Will reach a peak, then fade.
No further down than six-feet-below
Destiny wills you lay back.
The fresh earth-scent will not fade.
There is no combat zone this far below,
No more pain in your chest or weight on your back.
by Valentin Martinez
... who is a teacher of English as a Second Language and of
bilingual/bicultural creative writing at the University of the
Americas. Some of his poems, stories, and articles have been
published in newspapers and newsletters, and he has a novel in