War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

to the boys of LAV 21 Alpha

they call me m’am, drive me, deliver me, cinch my helmet strap, my frag vest tight, escort me through prairie night, one in front, one behind, C7s arc left C7s arc right, teach me turret and gun, how to see like a hawk, boil my rations in a tin pot, toast my toast with bayonet, share their p.b. and jam, swap cheese spread for desiccated bread, listen to Metallica, rap, Rage Against the Machine, Wakeup!, SlipKnot, let me peruse their porn mags, offer me hand-rolled fags, show the bear claw worn around neck, tiger carved of jade, Mary medallion in vest, photo of eight month old son kept next to left breast, tell me how cher mama threatened to throw them down the stairs when they signed up, laugh and swagger and smoke and shout, keep me warm (curled mother wolf between them) after lights out when its frigging cold and I’ve got no more layers to put on, let me ask a thousand questions, take a thousand notes, let me watch them sleep, their lashes angels’, lips full, so young, a thousand million kisses yet to come, if all goes well in Afghanistan, the desert, the sand, the patrols, the recces, the FOBs, next year, if all goes well for them, should the boys of LAV21A come home again.


6 Comments (Closed)

Hebridean

Ironic photo, S. The Taliban’s current strategy seems to involve attacking the ‘intruders’ from below, with road-side ordnance. What you show is the very fine line of steel plate between life and death in Afghanistan. Soldiers accept that they might die ‘with their boots on’, but in Helmand, many NATO soldiers have died without their legs, never mind their boots. Some things never change; in Crimea it was the Thin Red Line; in Afghanistan, it is the thin grey line! Cue for a bit of Tennyson, I think!

Nov 21 2008 · 13:20

sms

and the heavy load borne by the Canadians in Kandahar province Hebridean… you are absolutely right about your observation, one I thought about myself hour after hour in the LAV

Nov 21 2008 · 15:21

Brenda Schmidt

This piece is quite moving.

Nov 22 2008 · 09:23

Hebridean

You’re quite correct S, in the UK we tend to concentrate our thoughts on Helmand province, but of course your lads operate in Kandahar and we do hear about their losses, with equal sorrow, I might add. The full might of the the British Empire could not control Afghanistan, nor could the sophisticated ordnance and massive troop emplacement of the Soviet Union. I feel that if the politicians, who send young men & women to these places, were to be made to serve there themselves, then Afghanistan would just be another place on the map!

Nov 23 2008 · 13:31

Alex VanderWoude

I really liked this piece. It strikes me that you feel very maternal towards these soldiers, but yet you do not condescend toward them; you do not belittle them as little boys. Brava.

Nov 24 2008 · 11:00

smsteele

I send a special thanks to Sapper P for keeping me on track… he contacted me and wrote, “you mentioned the “M7” covering your arcs. The Canadian designation for our service rifle is C7, C7A1, and C7A2. They are all affectionately known as C7’s to us but the “M” identifier is an American one. It more or less is replaced by the “C” in Canadian gear. The M7 is actually the American designator for an older style of bayonet as well as a nasty anti-tank mine from the World War II.”

This is in no way nit-picking… I absolutely depend upon my readers, and especially the soldiers, to correct me if I get something wrong. As I have said before, while some of you may like my work and some of you may hate my work, what really matters to me is that I get it right…

thanks Spr. P and yes, I hope to be out in the field soon…

Nov 24 2008 · 20:07

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled to the boys of LAV 21 Alpha. It was posted here on November 20, 2008.

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