War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele


we band of brothers;/For he to-day that sheds his blood with me/Shall be my brother;

William Shakespeare, Henry V

only crackle, radio net, the CP pulling another all-nighter,
otherwise silence. across the village, no calls to any prayers
and the courtyard of the abandoned school house was silent
and the mountains. rippled like catfish fins, were silent,
bayonets sharpened in a silence;

I couldn’t hear generators though I smelled diesel, the hum of work,
the ‘weathermen’ drank coffee I carried 12,000 kms, (imagine
something picked, dried, shipped, roasted black)
I asked what tricks they have in their pimped up LAV parked on the other side
of the compound, the LAV with the gucci mast
(“don’t take any pics”; they just grinned
and sipped silently);

that night the camp dogs didn’t bark, the adders and cobras had gone to ground anyway. and the designated pup was cradled in a lonely soldier’s arm,
its floppy ears, its fur fresh-washed (ever see soldiers fight over who gets to bathe the dog?) in the light of Dawn’s laptop lidded open
Facebook lit the front in extra soft light, a weird campfire with no songs;

and the men looked on. or not.
the maintainer who always smiled at me had nothing left but checklists in the pockets of his deserts, his fingernails were immaculate.
“let’s see, how many breaths in a minute, an hour, okay, until I’m dead.”
I passed him on the way to the rocket with my sideman Pat. his pistol ready for anything. I wasn’t allowed to take a piss alone it seemed.

pass or fail all I’d witnessed at Shilo, Wainwright, Suffield—house-to-house, live-fire, Karl G, night rounds, battle formation, stab runs—were big muscle memory out there at the pointy end of the pointy end; there wire was thinner than thin,
only the idea of a hesco, mortared rooftops a rifle coy, HQ, the weathermen poring over the digital sky, a few guns,lay between them and us, a sudden death
or worse;

and listen, can you hear?
the cock really does crow when the Afghan sun slides into the west;

that day I watched 200 brothers (did you know women could be brothers?) raise dust, roll in. shut down card games, practical jokes. they swallowed the spuds I slapped on their paper plates, the thin rind of the night before war bitter on their teeth. they unrolled maps, listened, to the CO’s St. Crispin speech, lay down not to sleep;

from the OP I watched medics count bandages, bags of plasma, run through routines. desert diver just cleaned and cleaned his gear.

then it was done. minus hour.
only little sound; water from the well being pumped, splashing faces, hands, soldiers getting clean before they could not sleep.

the night before their first big Op. knowing it was all so damned finite.

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled eve. It was posted here on June 13, 2010.


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