Martin Willitts Jr
I am a former jazz mandolin player and once played as a child on live radio with Stephane Grappelli. I was also a field medic during Vietnam as a part of the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers). My poems have appeared in Blue Fifth Review, Centrifugal Eye, Kentucky Review, and others. I have 8 full-length collections and over 20 chapbooks of poetry.
In recovery, a soldier would describe combat as feeling
the most alive, like joy — more engaged, completely alert
to every sight, sound, smell — and they’d compare it
to the rush of psychedelic drugs. They felt reborn.
Then in surgery, it’d be another rebirth.
Some decided during a battle death wouldn’t harm them,
and they were surprised to be in surgery. Some
believed they went through hidden realms like vapor.
Some claimed they breathed pristine air in spite of cordite
and flash-bang smoke. Some felt merged into comradery
and detected the same glue held together the enemy.
Some soldiers mourned for the life they’d extinguished.
Some never knew if they harmed anyone.
One had accidently fired on his own men,
and it was labeled Friendly Fire. But his heart hurt.
He asked continuously, are you sure I am alive?
Are you sure you did not remove my heart?
© 2017 Martin Willitts Jr
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