The coin of the realm

It twists and shifts with the pace
of a Rube Goldberg machine,
drops men from boats to dangle
in the sky, forest green
figurines crouching,
aiming, leaping — heroes in the minds
of boys, heroes in living form
some call sacrifice.

A plastic American flag at the foot
of a dead lawn, sun-bleached, creased,
from the Fourth of July many years
ago — on the TV, a story about D-Day,
the beaches of Normandy, hedgerows
line the farms of northern France
with mines that detonate
mid-air, could put holes through wood
with nuts and bolts —
Hitler’s buzzsaw cutting down men
on the beaches, bunching up in the sea,
they learn the details about their mission
the first time after training 21 months
for something like this —

The commander explains the business
behind the strategy, how to win wars:
every man from officer to private
understands the objective — if you lose
the leaders you have to hope a few
can make it behind the lines, can string
something together, take the enemy
position, make them surrender, open
the road from France to Berlin.

You buy with the selling of men’s lives,
it is the coin of the realm he says,
and I am in love and awe
with every one of them.

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
This entry was posted in poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The coin of the realm

  1. ksbeth says:

    wonderful – ‘the coin of the realm.’

    Like

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