Before the Siege – A Military Poem & Prose
Neither all poem, nor all prose, I chose to qualify this simply as 'creative writing'. I am fascinated with great battles in war throughout history, and the common extremes it manifests out of all aspects of life for those involved. Extreme emotion, sacrifice, tears, heartache and bravery. It really puts our own lives in perspective, when we attempt to imagine the horrors that soldiers throughout the ages have gone through. Many of their tales are long forgotten, so I try to honor them with this submission.
July 4, 1187
So thirsty, we have marched from what seems the end of the earth.
We were promised water, but alas, the well was found dry! Cursed treachery.
Our strength is now for want, my bow has been bent a thousand-fold, and is at its end
As a taker of life.
I hear grown men weep, and hear murmurs of defeat looming; Saladin may yet take this holy endeavor from us.
Here upon the hill, my bedding of Hattin Ash, we have arisen
To find ourselves surrounded, on all sides by the enemy.
The shear number of them, sinks a weight deep in my gut, I fear the worst
Will soon become of us.
Foolish was this mission, my throat dry as the sun-bleached bone
Beneath my boot.
Somewhere close a horse cries out wildly, surely he see’s what I wish not.
February 3rd, 1864
The sunrise came fast, and not unwanted
The night’s hell of grit and blood has passed
Not untouched, to nerve and sunken brow
Fingers broken, red and twisted, lay curled
Wrapped around cold steel still.
Shivering amongst the tent, where his wounds are tended
The man reflects to his childhood, his only brother
Now his enemy
Close above earth, between the willows, yet far away
He hopes is still well
If he could imagine the irony of this confederate travesty
He would laugh and mock, the heaven which seems
Achingly far, yet.
His good hand to his breast, the note still kept
To his faraway bride, and to his child
“My Dearest Martha, I so long for your embrace
Keep up your love for me, as this keeps my spirit well
Do not fret for me, as the fort has almost fallen, and
I will be on the journey home to you, my love
And our sweet, loving child.”
Somewhere close a horse cries out wildly, it is beginning again.
June 6, 1944 -0525
Too much water, I've lived and dreamed of water, my mind aches as my gut wretches over the rusted rail of this landing craft.
I feel excited, but I must confess, I’m just about as nervous as I was back on our first date. That seems ages ago now, but it was only last winter! I do miss you, Sophie. I see you now when I close my eyes, in your favorite white sweater, your bright red lipstick, and that smile you keep only for me. It may be a rough road ahead, but I hope to be home by Christmas. Don’t let my brother stray with my car, if you can! I know how he loves it, but I’ll be reclaiming it when I get done with this. It will be just me and you.
I can’t say I slept well last night, we thought we were to go yesterday, but the storms blew in and delayed that plan. I slept out on the dock, in an English boat shed, as the lodging was too crowded. I know that you will get this after we land, so I can write to you now, and not get into trouble. I can see all around me more navy ships than I ever knew there were built! All sizes and shapes, trailing our boat for miles, and as far ahead as I can see as well. The waves are making me ill, but I can manage, I couldn’t stomach the runny eggs they gave us…many men became ill. It was nice that they gave us steak, but I long for you mom’s cooking!
I will have to end this letter soon, as there is much activity now, on deck. The boats guns have just started in, a deafening sound that shakes my bunk with every volley. Between these barrages I hear the weapons officer yelling, then I hear the whistle of other shells passing above us. Right above our boat!
I had to report to deck, so I finish this now. My bunk-mate here, Phil, is staring at the coast, up ahead, he looks numb. I tried to give him a smoke and he just took it, and let it slip from his fingers. I hope he snaps out of it soon. Capt.’s shouting orders, getting everyone in a certain place, all our gear is on, it is so heavy I have to kneel as I write this.
Visibility is dim. It is dawn now, a thin blue light is breaking through low fog and it just seems murky and dark up ahead. Though, I see the boats fanning out, heading both directions. God there are so many! Their guns are going even as they turn…heading further down the coast. It looks like those roman candles Dad bought last year, except much, much brighter. Flash Flash Flash...and seconds go by. Then I hear the ‘Whump Whump Whump!’…and they are already flashing again. Other boats have joined in from the southern flank. All this while an armada of our bombers pass overhead…straight for shore…whatever it is they are dropping out there no man could survive. Great plumes of earth and smoke are all I can make out. I can feel the vibration of shattered ground even through the boat. It seems the entire sky is on fire and the noise is making my hand shake. Somewhere close a man cries out wildly, surely he feels what I wish not.
I’m beginning to worry a bit now.
Fare thee well, my love. Pray for me. I must go and do my duty. Tell Mother I love her.
All my love and kisses to you,