My Death
For Kendall

Alas, my brother
You have been taken from me....

This body is mostly water.
When the high velocity bullet
enters, it turns hearts and
livers, lungs and flesh to soup.
That's how I die.
And I didn't want to die.
Or it shatters a bone and
drives fragments into vitals
or penetrates my skull and
blenderizes my brain and eyes.
That's also how I die.

Or when a smart bomb falls
out of nowhere and the
concussion blasts my organs
and smashes them this new way
that's how I die again
though I didn't want to.

Or if a grenade falls into
my back pocket and blows
my ass off or if fire turns
my body into burnt meat,
that's yet another way to die.

Or if I step on a mine and
there goes my leg or both legs,
or if a bouncing betty hops
up and removes my face,
itıs yet another way to die.

Or if I am killed by my own.
A white phosphorous bomb
finds my bunker and turns
me into a gummy cinder:
friendly fire is a way to die.

Or if my humvee flips over
and crushes me, or I get
in the way of a tank and
am pressed flat on the road
by my own, a way to die.

My children will miss me,
the wife I love cries out,
my brothers and sisters
and all my friends watch
me die and they grieve.

This is what I cry, pitched is
my heart to this heartsore shriek:
I have this history, I am one
generations made. Is there not
at least something sacred here?

This life is precious because
there is no other like me.
I am an only one in the universe
I am a holy complication
of heaven and earth and this dies!

Can anyone hear me; will
no one listen? Don't you
know what fire and weapons do?
How easy it is to erase me,
the only me in this universe?

A jewel, a soul, a heart, beyond
the price of rubies, beyond
the witness of weapons beyond
the imaginings of callous makers
of terror, and I die. For them I die.

Listen to me, you makers of death!
Multiply this single me, my heart,
by tens, or hundreds, thousands, tens
of thousands, there are no enemies
here, since all are equally rare--listen:

that's what war is, and we are gone.

Steven Fortney

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