“Then and There” By Robin Chappell

The merciless heat melted the potential of surviving outdoors by day

Sweat is wiped from my furrowed brow once my footing is shifted​

A mixture of sand and wilted green sprouts sift beneath my boot soles

I am planted to the uneven ground, alert to every sound around me silently

The grip around the barrel of my M-16 is tightened and strapped across my back

Loosening the cuffs of my uniform and giving long sleeves some slack

Against regulations and my wet forehead, I quickly removed my thick cap

Polyester drew heat closer to my exhausted body in vain

I inhaled the scorching stale air and questionable scents drifting past my face

Here in this place called Iraq for the operation of a freedom locked away in a secret

Again…tonight I longed and I ached for moist blades of grass between naked toes

Colorfully polished and amongst Americanized burgers and lush forests

The looser grip of an icy cold Corona stuffed with bright yellow lemon…dash of salt

The unspeakable simple things one would sell their soul for in this desert…

But unfortunately, could never obtain

It had been weeks…months…nearly a year, reaching four hundred days they say

Beautiful starry nights…those Arabian nights spent in angst still grasp my cries

Cries of loneliness and the sickness of home whispered to several bright full moons

Desperation calling to the twinkling of every star in sight…

Stars that disappear beneath many American city lights 

I was comforted by the brilliance and natural glory of those skies

Venting on throwing stones of the past, releasing long Jupiter sighs

Standing beneath the heavens not many of us experience during life

I have since then never viewed a more beautiful vision of what is beyond us

Exposed to an unknown blackness we all vulnerably trust

The unpredictably serene scene cast above the most violent perimeters

Grenade and rocket launchers often took over the melancholy silence 

Living against the swelter…with no true explanation or reason as to why…

This uproot of us from familiar soil…snatched from beneath familiar skies

Oh well…time to head to the bomb shelters tonight…

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