Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Last Ride

a veteran's tribute to veterans
Circling high above the earth
I wait eagerly for my birth
Too warm inside, like a heated womb
Too cold outside, like a sealed up tomb
All around me, my peers stand ready
Full of fear, breathless and heady
A sheen of sweat on my upper lip
Wiped away quick as a zip
Nervous fingers clutch my life-line
Inside my head, I trace my go-sign
Above the door before which I stand
The light turns green, I raise my hand
Eyes are drawn to the new tableau
The breast of the earth, so far below
The zone is beneath - a shining light
Outside it's day - cold and bright
The wind whips by two hundred fifty knots
Other soldiers fly, becoming tiny spots
My turn comes round it's time to go
I stare at the ground so far below
I leap hard from my fragile shelter
I'm suddenly flying helter skelter
Then things light up inside my head
I breathe again, no I'm not dead
I look all about and everythings clear
I think of all I've ever held dear
The sun shines hard on my aching back
The ground rushes up, ready to attack
Never before a sky so blue
Or the taste of thrill quite so true
To fly, is this how the angels feel?
Only sad I know it's not for real
Soon enough my ride will end
Back to earth, my soul will tend.
2500 feet, time to pull my chute
I feel a snap and see my boot
I pull my body into proper formation
Prevent always crazy gyration
I drift about so far from home
And know inside I'm not alone
The earth comes to meet me gently now
I think of my mother and then know how
She must have felt when I came along
So very weak but immensely strong
I hit the ground and start to run
Up ahead there's someone with a gun
I see men go down and lay there still
Is this fear I feel or just lack of will?
Where's my weapon--where's my knife?
I'll do anything to save my life.
I look around for a place to hide
I want to scream but keep it inside
I suddenly recall why I'm here
All those things that I hold dear
Are threatened now by insidious evil
Face of a madman over the heart of a devil
So I run for the rendezvous quick as I can
Must get to the rear and pick up the plan
My fallen brothers behind me I leave
There's no time now, later I'll grieve
Up ahead I see a bright shining light
Break through the forest like firelight
"strange" I think, as nearer I run
"That young man looks like the Son."
Then something flutters over my head
I see my parachute and cry with dread
I look up now from where I've lain
and know inside that I've been slain
I roll me over in the deep wet sand
Look up at the Son and raise my hand
"My heart won't let me fail at my task
But if I die here I've one thing to ask -
On this ground where my brothers have bled
Please color each sunset vivid blood red."
©Sept 2000 Terry Riley
Reprinted Pencilstubs Poem

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

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