Stand Too

In the silence and the waiting
     in the hour before the dawn
demons and evil spirits,
     among the mists of fear, take form
From grave-like, red mud trenches
     where home is just a dream
Seep the wraiths of unformed terrors
     and the silent need to scream. 

The long shadows on the killing fields
     move with the rising sun
And the only reality that is real
     is the solid reality of the gun
Vision acuter and hearing sharper
     than they have ever been
While waiting in silence, all alone,
     with the silent need to scream. 

Drenched in sweat and monsoon rains
     with mouth as dry as death
Lungs and throat on fire;
     reminders to gulp one more living breath
Unclean fingers caressing triggers
     to kill the real and the unseen
An ounce of pressure to drive away
     the silent need to scream. 

In jungle-rotted combat boots,
     white corpse-like feet feel naught
The gentle touch of the girl back home
     is given not a thought
The sun ascends in the daytime sky;
     the light seems new and clean.
Another dawn and the urge has passed
     for the silent need to scream.

© Anthony W. Pahl
16 January 2003
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