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Article: Martyrdom of a Mutt

Martyrdom of a Mutt

Martyrdom of a Mutt

That first day in Vietnam they snag a batch of us young imbeciles Herd us into one of those mandatory oh-rientating lectures war hygiene security There are ninety-nine kind of snake in Veet Nawm Ninety-eight are p'ison and t'other one eat you whole There's a island in the South China Sea where all the guys Got the incurable clap have to live in secret forever no shit on and on They shoo us into crude bleachers Though who the hell would have thought to boltboardbuild bleachers In the open under a sulky sun slight breeze stirring the fragrant air Flies humming every so often some jerk will doze off dipperduck and fall Out of his seat hit the ground with a thud To the ineffable amusement of his buddiesParatrooper captain struts up front 101st Airborne patch black white yellow One Oh One never wore Subdued insignia subdued for pussies even in combat pride tradition airborne Hundred-degree heat yet the captain has on starched fatigues and spit-shined boots Pistol belt holster mag pouch regulation speaks quietlymorequietly than I would have expected Paratrooper captain should be noisy arrogant this one speaks quietlySpeaks quietly I say the required subjects Safety security discipline teamwork airborne we nod I hear the tell-tale voluptuous abandoned breathing of a sleeping soldier we Listen strain to stay awake in the searing heat glance around sandbags antenna masts Pee oh ell drums track crew flaked out in her shade stickribbed mongrel dog tied to a tentstake Just beyond captain's makeshift lecternCaptain drones on flies humming dog snoozing sun sulking Water purification challenge and authentication Geneva Con vention accent on that first syllable He's taken out his sidearm fingers it absently as he talks running Clearly down a prepared list of obligatory Material To Be Covered Flies humming dog yawning listless horizon floating on wispy waves of corrugation Captain cocks his piece BA-WOOM shoots that dog bigger'n shitDead shoots that dog dead four guys fall off the bleachers The rest bolt upright now wide-eyed horror now shoot a dog In front of Americans shoot a dog Norman Rockwell Lassie Rin Tin Tin Fala Asta Rex Fluffy Spot Rover Sparkie Pooch Ol Yeller Dog of Flanders Pluto Punky Spunky Bunky Captain Peering at us expressionless immobile indifferent savoring our outrage our astonishmentThen he speaks again quietlystillquietly Listen you idiots when I talk to you about war and death you listen you Listen to everything you don't sift and choose you don't edit you don't tune out you Don't forget you listen to the man who has been here six months longer than you you listen To the man who has been here three months longer than you you listen To the man who has been here ten minutes longer than you you listenYou listen to the jungle you listen to overflying aircraft you listen to the dinks chatter You listen to incoming fire you listen to outgoing fire you listen to your buddy Die because he made a mistake that cost him his life or you made a mistake that cost him his life You listen this place is about death that worthless dog just died to remind you I Just made him a monument a martyr just sacrificed him You make sure no one does that to youWith that my captain holsters his piece gracile gesture Spins on his heel and stalks off leaves Us nineteen-year-old imbeciles sitting speechless Gapemouthed nonplussed sun Stabbing flies humming dog lying lifeless in the dust widening Puddle of its blood one foot cocked up into the air sun dust dog sunEven through the tunnel of time that picture burns in my mind's eye Magnificent captain magnificent dog magnificent glowing afternoon mortal Haled me healed me wholed me pricked my Consciousness steeled my being I do not forget the lesson I do come home Where unsettled I find I cannot forget the lesson for like that place This place too is about death.

Written By Alan Farrell

May 12, 2017

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