"Three Letters"

Buddies in battle all tattered and rattled
Like bastards in pastures revered and reviled
The bitter faced gunners with tracer laced thunder
Lay waste to a hundred stark hearted believers

Truckloads of youngsters packed tight in their bunkers
Giddy with gun smoke and pretty with hunger
Drumming on helmets and counting down minutes
Till their turn to line sights with veteran cynics

My chinstrap clipped loose
Nightlights shine off the guys’ eyes
On recon across Baghdad’s southwest border
It’s those damn quiet nights that just don’t feel right
And you can’t hide yourself in a two ton truck
You check the fluids and the tires, and you clean the guns
And cross your fingers, keep your head up and your eyes pried
Cause it’s your senses not your weapon that’s gonna keep you alive
Cross your fingers, keep your head up and your eyes pried
Cause it’s your senses not your weapon that’s gonna keep you alive

Well my name is Peter, trained med from Toledo
Ohio, joined up to buy time and a dime for my schooling
My best pal was Davy, Had a kid and a lady
She was just seventeen when she told him, “I’ll
Wait right here, faithful and holding our baby”
“Honey, don’t cry,” he said, “I’ll be back before he takes his first steps”

They say it ain’t bad out there
We got safety in numbers
Got hundreds of brothers
Got guns trucks and armor
Got trained as a soldier
Eight miles in full gear
My M16’s clean, blessed by God
Got to go, Dear

Exposed, we rode side roads, dirt clouds grow behind us
Alley’s shadows swing closed like doors and it just reminds us
That no one knows a child from a killer if all you see is silhouette figures
Who could guess what next turns bear explosives’ taut triggers
So cross your fingers, keep your head up and your eyes pried
Cause it’s your senses not your weapon that’s gonna keep you alive
So cross your fingers, keep your head up and your eyes pried
Cause it’s your senses not your weapon that’s gonna keep you alive

Shook hard by an IED
Scattered morphine and IVs
Flipped the truck, fire due east
From guns in the alley
And my ears were still ringing
Roll to cover, hold position
Felt a hand at my shirt sleeve
Turned to see Davy singing

He sang “God, getting shot don’t burn nearly as much
As the flash of the past that I barely touched
God, getting shot don’t spill near as much blood
As the blood that I was passed from my father and mum
God, getting shot can’t spill near enough blood
To take back from the blood that I’ve given my son”
So cross your fingers, keep your head up and your eyes pried
Cause it’s your senses not your weapon that’s gonna keep you alive

His last breath as a man is his last breath as a soldier
“It’s colder than I thought it’d be,” I read his lips as his hands let go of my shoulders
My blood cross embossed across his red cheek where I held his head to my chest
My friend left me with three letters, each folded crisp and fresh ink address
Like he knew that today was the day and of course he would’ve only gone the soldier’s way
One to his mother and father, one to his lady, and one to his son. His name was also Davy.

 

©2005 Nicholas Hohman