DIGGING IN DEEP by John Tustin


Digging in deep,
The mustard gas overhead.
I affix my bayonet to my rifle
And wince with the rain.
All I am now is a man
Who has a rifle with a knife on the end
Of it.
This place smells like death and rotting cabbage.
I huddle deep in the mud and wait for the assault
With the rats and my brethren,
The men around me as afraid as I am.
I can hear their hearts beating even though
The beating of my own heart is a million hammers
Beating crooked a million rusty nails.

Digging in deep.
The whistle blows.
I love you and I love everyone.
Now either I emerge from my dug-out
Or my predetermined enemy emerges from his.
Either way, one of us
Or both of us is likely
To die in the mud
Or decorate the barbed wire of no-man’s land
Like a scarecrow
While the kings dine on delicacies,
Drinking from cups
Unsullied with the blood
That pounds now
In our ears
As we wait
To kill,
To die,

To kill and die
While the kings take
Their well-mannered sips.


John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.

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