Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mickey, a Soldier in Iraq / Iraq poem

I was taking Math last semester. I hate Math. I was happy to immediately find something else to think about, when Mickey's shoulder tattoo of soldier boots with ominous circling of initials caught my eye.

He was 23, new father of a son and recently back from Iraq. He had been in Afghanistan; he was there at Fallujah. (Click on the title of this blog to see and hear an account of Fallujah from a soldier. WARNING: the youtube this connects to contains images of war. Please be advised, your heart will suffer.) His eyes are electric blue, piercing and direct, and his body never stops moving. Here- fingers tap, here - feet dancing underneath the desk, here- another joke, witty aside, loud laugh during lecture. He is whippet thin and strong, built like a soldier and young- very young, like an American soldier.

I asked about his tattoo and he pulled up the tee shirt sleeve, peered at the boots and dangling dog tags, ran his fingers over the initials. ' These are my boys,' he said, not looking at me. ' They're dead. ' There were about seven sets of initials.

' I'm so sorry, ' I said. What else? ' What about these? ' I pointed to the three silver cuffs circling his right wrist.

' My closest friends, ' he said. ' They're dead. '

' I'm so sorry, ' I said.

' It must be really hard, ' I said.

He nodded. ' One of em, my friend, he died on his last day. Got caught in a IED and his leg was blown up. He bled to death. We wrapped his leg up and all, but he bled to death. '

' I'm so sorry, ' I said.

He shrugged. ' Yeah. '

' How is it over there, ' I asked.

' It's bad. The fucking rules of conduct...fucking gone, no one knows, it's not the same as it was in the beginning, you gotta survive, I've seen kids killed at checkpoints because the car they were in didn't stop in time. The soldiers, they're just shooting at will now, nobody's following protocol, it's fucking insane. It's insane. '

I sat in silence. ' Thank you, ' I said. ' For serving. Thank you for everything you guys do. '

He shrugged. ' Yeah. ' Tap, tap, his fingers. His feet. He grinned. He talked about his son and wife, told a graphic joke.

I bought him a cup of coffee, told him thank you again. There's nothing I can do.
Vote. Buy a cup of coffee. Pray.

This poem does not represent my typical voice, or style. However, it represents my feelings well, so I am pasting it here anyhow.

Shannon said...

Thank you for this. My heart just aches for the appropriate emotional response to this war; I suppose there is no appropriate emotion for something so ....

Montgomery Maxton said...

my cousin went to war a lovely man. my cousin came back from war a monster. :(

Little Warrior's Mom said...

Poem - excruciating and wonderful. I don't know how any of the survivors survive their experience.

gojirama said...

How heeart wrenching, both his story and your peom :(

Maggie May said...

it is heart wrenching. i think i'm going to call Mickey up and do an interview. i can't get around this war. it seems too horrible to be writing about whatever i want and not write about this war.

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