It Should Have Been Me Who Died

Dedicated to Colin Stewart and his Father

The shores of Tripoli
And the halls of Montezuma
Songs of triumph for us all
But buried with the Arizona
They wake up screaming
But that is even worse
Because it is more than a nightmare
It is a never-ending song with only one verse

They killed them
It should have been me
They killed them
It should have been me

He would never talk about it
But he didn’t have to
As he drifted away from us
His eyes would turn blue
Then grey
And finally black
We knew where he was
He had gone all the way back

They killed them
It should have been me
They killed them
It should have been me

He knew of courage
But this was about survival
He knew of terror
And awaited deaths arrival
He traversed
The distance between life and death
He felt no pride
Just shock in the middle of what was left

They killed them
It should have been me
They killed them
It should have been me

In the rubble of a city where he once played
A little boy drew stick figures of his mother with chalk
He wanted to be innocent because reality was not complete
But he was not able to crawl because bullets made him walk
In what holy place does horror walk among us
Taunting good men who do wicked things?
In what holy place does murder force itself upon us
Hardening a child not understanding the words he sings?

They killed them
It should have been me
They killed them
It should have been me

In a moment of gaiety at the circus
She looked at him and noticed a blank face
He wondered how love could reside inside a soldier
But she wept with him about the human race
He said let’s get married right away
And she agreed without telling her mother
He said I will be back for you soon
Because our future children will need their father

They killed them
It should have been me
They killed them
It should have been me

Her face was inside his helmet
Her soft hands carried his rifle
Her heart was inside his uniform
And her love was his survival
With the cries of grown men around him
He tried to make it just another day
Somehow the sun would still set
He would see it, somehow, someway

They killed them
It should have been me
They killed them
It should have been me

He wanted to make things simple
While the birds and dark skies wept
The ocean brought death near
The sand was where hell slept
There was no sound in the din
Only her lips whispering assurance
You will return to me my love
God will bring you deliverance

They killed them
It should have been me
They killed them
It should have been me

Someone took the bullet meant for him
Each step was as bad as the next
A jeep blew up that carried his friend
The randomness made even God vexed
She looked at him as he woke her once again
Her tears could never wash away his pain
Why should men be forced to live
With a memory that is more than a stain?

They killed them
It should have been me
They killed them
It should have been me

To see a grown man cry
And never feel at home
Is to know the story
Of the red sand and foam
The flag continues to wave
And the anthem will play
But how can we heal his mind
So he can forget that horrible day?

They killed them
It should have been me
They killed them
It should have been me

The little boy with the chalk
Just wanted to feel safe
In demon streets he held the hand
Of a soldier who wondered about faith
He thought about that moment
When he felt the longing of childhood
If he could only find that little boy
He was someone who understood

They killed them
It should have been me
They killed them
It should have been me

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Comments 5 comments

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

You know much more than I do. This is so powerful and tremendous, - and puzzling. I will need to read it again, Mark. Then I'll surely remain puzzled.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 3 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

Hi Nellieanna. Thank you fro reading everything I post and taking the time to comment. This is based upon a composite of two men; Colin's father and the father of another man I know. It's about WWII and their experiences then and in the years that follow. Time is not linear in what I wrote so there may be a few passages that are in the present and in the past all at once. I was trying to describe the indescribable which is the horror of war.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

Thank you, Mark. It's always my pleasure to read your work!

I am aware of my scanty & non-participating information about war, but I do have some input and observations, if I may share. . .

Of course, most of the men in my life WERE on active duty in WWII, though I wasn't an adult in that generation. My brother was in the Philippines, 2 brothers-in-law, one a test pilot and the other in Italy and North Africa, a couple of college friends who were at my school on the GI Bill after their service, and - finally, my beloved George, who was a Navy officer in the South Pacific in the thick of the battles there, including Iwo Jima and other well-known battles; and whom I met and married when fully grownup, years later. All these folks were at least 10 years my senior. But I was witness to much that haunted them.

I've also become intensely and personally aware of its after-effects on the "Baby Boomers" and their lives and progeny. War's damages never end with a peace agreement between the nations involved. The effects continue to reverberate from then on.

This was almost pushed on my awareness by some sad effects on George's younger son, which puzzled me; so I gave it much thought, ending up writing about it in a semi-fictional hub series titled "Magnolia", the title based on the magnolia tree in my front yard he planted there when he was 7. He's now in his 60s and still struggles with serious issues, which I suspect were launched in the aftermath of the end of WWII.

If I may be forgiven, here's the link to the 1st of that series: http://hubpages.com/literature/Magnolia


Nikkij504gurl profile image

Nikkij504gurl 3 years ago from Louisiana

This is heart wrenching. I can only imagine the pain and horror our soldiers face out there in war, in the battlefield. How many of their fellow soldiers, friends, brothers that die unexpectedly, and so suddenly. Out there where anything can happen, their are no rules, especially not to the enemy, they dont fight fair. I had 2 grandfathers that were in a war, I wish I had learned more about their experience, and what they went through. They never seemed to be affected like this, at least they never showed it. Great poem, you describe the feelings well, its sad they go through all this for a country that destroys itself every day...


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

A very powerful read and voted up.

Eddy.

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