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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Black Days

Sharpened bayonets did not glint in the sun that day
As the sun hid behind condescending clouds
Keeping its warm rays to itself
Wanting no part of things such as these

Dirt caked rifles sported specks of rust
Despite cleaning twice a day
The rain that had hung unfallen in the air for months
Worked its way into every nook cranny and metal grain
Expanding everything
Making for ill fitting comfort
The wood handles and stocks
Dirty underwear and socks

A cry went up suddenly from down the line
But it was cut short mid-yell
And the message was clear

The enemy had infiltrated us

Lips curled beneath a once-waxed roaring mustache
The Sergeant's voice gave order with a mouse's squeak
"To Bunker Sixteen! Go!"

And he was up and out of the hole that passed for a trench these days
Pounding the mud with boots the same color as his uniform
Which was the same color as the mud
And it all matched the sky
Grey invaded our very souls as we followed him in a killing frenzy

The Hun ran next to the Brit
Not much to tell the one from the other
Except that each was trying to kill the other

Now multiply that by a thousand
With cracks of metal upon wood
An occasional gunfire shot
And the sound of boots in the muck
Pounding like angry winemakers upon the worst of grapes
The ones that deserve angry stomps to wring out their best
Leaving nothing but limp skins and seeds behind in flattened fruit meat

Bunker sixteen loomed large and near
Less than half of us left now
Still fighting and full of fear
There was no enemy or us anymore
Just a goal and people in our way

Hands on the prize at last
First Lieutenant Brandt turns
Showing a smile that is missing two more teeth than last time through split lips


Almost invisible puppeteer's wires pull up to the heavens
Taking our weapons and uniforms with them
Replaced by clean civilian clothing
Our skin scrubbed of that mud at last
As that memory becomes more of a dream than anything else

Harold Brandt's fingertips slowly left the box of the last flat screen television in the store
His bloody smile with not quite enough teeth returned to a grimace
The final lunge to the prize reversing in midair
As we all retreated from the prize at the end of aisle sixteen
All assholes and elbows in negative motion
My own fist flies away from a teenager's face
His hands going away from me
As I fall back up to my running position

Back to the front of the store we went
Mad jackals the lot of us
Whooping in unintelligible earsplitting noise
Sale flyers fluttering madly in hand
The fallen shoppers being untrampled as we went
A woman got unpunched in the ribs and started smiling again
Resuming her earlier optimism that she might get a cheap video game system for her son

An infant flew through the air feet first
Back to her mother's arms
Away from the soft bedding pile in which she had ended up
Until the fear left her little face
And mom clutched her closely
Assured that she could never be tripped up and drop her precious little girl

Back past the pile of doorbusters
Those same items that had claimed the unwary on the way through the first time
Tiny tin toys unexploding from boxes that came back together as they were unstepped on
With an  uncanny valley crying
The latest Peeing Peggy dolls cried like little foreign babes
Cries going in opposite pitch from what they should

Until we were all back through the doorways
Glass panels swinging closed upon us
A security guard yelled out that it was almost time
Hands and faces pressing against thick glass
Watching phones and wall clocks
Counting back from 6am
Noses pressed distended against glass
Snotting things up in steamy suspense
Wet slushy snow all around

All the frightened pigs in the early winter cold
Greeding for shiny things glittering in the grey of the predawn
Awaiting the start of yet another Black Friday