Not Cherokee enough to read broken jungle

                        We crest a long steep incline—I’m in the middle of the

                        platoon laden with insane steel boxes—thousands of

                        machine gun rounds. I have fallen too far back.

                        When I top the trail, the Marine ahead has disappeared:


                        Left or right, I have no clue. The jungle’s close and silent

                        And I am not Cherokee enough to read broken vine.

                        Dumbstruck, I stand there and wordlessly curse my

                        Incompetence, my physical weakness—more than half the platoon


                        Is behind me and my next decision is going to get them killed

                        or delivered into tomorrow.  I stand there, swinging my head

to the left, to the right—gagging claustrophobia spikes my gut,

bile stings my throat, my mind snaps


To laser focus as straight shots of adrenaline hit my brain

like the blows of a ball-peen hammer.  I stop breathing to help me hear better.

I will myself to hear.  Hear! Damn it, hear!

Another Marine crests behind me.


Suddenly, to my left, a faint jingle of metal on American metal.

I leap toward the sound.

Copyright Tim Bagwell


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