Him? He got posted to Kandahar,
Didn't know what action he'd see,
Out on patrol in an armoured car;
Got taken out by an IED.
That one? He was a Red Army man;
Conscripted, sent down Helmand way;
Unit ambushed by the Taliban;
Sniper's bullet shortened his day.
And in 1880 in the sand,
Those hundreds dead? No mystery:
The British fallen at Maiwand.
How circular is history.
I slept my way to Hell last night,
I was in the trenches, on patrol,
Bathed in a flare's implacable light,
Perhaps I found a spacetime hole
Into a parallel universe,
One that was infinitely worse.
It's happened several times before:
A glimpse of another world so clear,
The sensation of being sure
I could touch it, it feels so near,
So palpable, so very strong.
You think you understand? You're wrong.
Phil Howard © 2011