How many boys who loved playing army,
Who loved pretending to be shot
                     tumbling down summer hills,
Who loved pretending to be dead
                     as their best friend checked to make sure,
Or who loved pretending to deliver
                     their last-words soliloquy
                     wincing in imagined pain
                     or lost and dreamy,
Find themselves years later
                     trapped on the battlefield
Hearing the voices of enemy soldiers
Searching for corpses to mutilate
                     or wounded to torture to death?

What man remembers those idyllic
                     boyhood days then
As he lies still as possible
Trying not even to breathe,
                     hoping beyond hope
                     the enemy will pass him by,
Knowing if he’s discovered
                     they’ll cut off his cock and balls
                     and stuff them in his screaming mouth
And then, before cutting off his head,
                     disembowel him before his eyes?

Ah, thousands of boys and men
                     have met this end,
Millions perhaps by now,
                     so many people
                     so many wars.

Do they go to a special heaven
                     set aside for
                     all who die like this?
Restored to the bodies they had,
The memory erased of that insane end
                     to the story of their lives?

Do they still get a chance
                     to play army with joy
And pretend to be shot
                     and pretend to die
After they meet this end?
Do they still get to thrill
                     in pretending to be dead
                     after they die?
After this hideous, inhuman end
                     will they laugh and wrestle
                     their best friend again?

Editor’s note: When this poem was published in our May issue, the last two stanzas were inadvertently dropped. It appears here in its entirety.