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A Recruit's Lament

by Tony Whitaker

First day in boot camp
in Charlie-5-1
{right next to the sand pit}
drill sergeants shouting
“Whitaker give me 20”
push ups for missing
some minor detail
among the hundreds
every recruit must perfect

Duck-walking in the sand pit
speed marches through wooded trails
in the relentless heat of day
ten miles with full packs
easy for someone young in good shape
like “playing Army”as a boy
in the familiar woods with friends
but now with real gear and guns

One memory still fills me with chills
from the loneliness
standing out
after all these years
still shaking me
while allowing it in

Late at night and lights-out
from my top bunk
looking through the
pristine panes of the
old barrack's wooden windows
the sullen silence filling me
a full moon hanging low
its’ mouth agape
in the crisp clear night air
of early October ‘72

A sudden reality rushing in
mourning for familiar faces
and a tear drop tracing
a line in time
down this boy’s face
feeling it still so well
“I want to go home”


Author's Note: My first few days in boot camp were an emotional roller coaster.

Posted on 04/27/2007
Copyright © 2021 Tony Whitaker

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Dave Fitzgerald on 04/27/07 at 01:21 PM

I remember a boy doing that in my intake too, well captured Tony

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