The Crew

U.S. Marine, Iwo Jima, 1945

 Mac was a good ‘ol boy from Tennessee,
the Sergeant was a South Bronx loan shark,
Slow Jack’s a farm boy from New Harmony,
and I was green, still frightened of the dark.
That was our crew. At least, the ones not dead.
Slow Jack kept gold teeth tied up in a sock. 
The Sergeant had his legs cut off by Doc
and begged me would I shoot him in the head.
I couldn’t do it for him, and his screams
went on all night. Later, I lost this arm.
I still wake up with night sweats and night fears
and see the girl I killed inside my dreams.
Slow Jack is back and working on the farm.
Mac has a necklace made of human ears.

From Tongue of War: WWII Poems (BKMK Press, 2009) by Tony Barnstone. Copyright © 2009 by Tony Barnstone. Used with the permission of the author.