Written by: Edmund Siejka

I remember 
That summer 
Days in slow motion
Longer nights
Nothing to do
And angry
I enlisted.

Military orders
In breast pocket
Standing In formation
Next to my right leg
Family, friends and memories
Somewhere in the shadows.

Cargo plane 
Engines thrusting
Size beyond imagination
Pushing through a crowd
Of olive green fatigues
I grab a seat near the back
Meet another soldier
Friendly round face 
Broad shoulders
Southern drawl
We share some things in common
I call him Country
He calls me City.

An eternity
Flying in the clouds
Hours pass
We finally land
Stomach churning
Running on adrenalin
We disembark 
Carrying 90lb backpacks
Walking into 
Oppressive heat 
Nauseating smell 
Suspicion everywhere
In the distance an ugly black cloud
Blocks the sun
From a place where children hide
And death is just a step away.

Numb with fear
All the tough words and slogans
From basic training
Slip away
I grip my rifle
A soldier yells out
Watch my back
And I’ll watch yours
The words strike a raw nerve
Country slaps me on the back
Up front someone cracks a joke
Nervously we laugh
And I think to myself
Maybe it won’t be so bad after all.