Today's poem is by Hugh Martin

The Stick Soldiers
                             To soldiers, I hope the war is fine.
                             —Girl Scout Troop 472

The children colored the cards,
dated from December,
with Christmas trees, piles of presents,
snowmen smiling, waving. Sara wants
a doll. Evan, a dog. Kyle promises
to pray for us.

Outside the hooch, we open mail,
hundreds of letters
from youth groups, scout troops,
classes of school children.

Kearns wants to write back,
ask for pictures
of older sisters.

We tape our favorites to the door.
In blue crayon, a stick-figure soldier poses
as he’s about to toss
a black ball,
fuse burning,
at three other stick figures,
red cloth wrapped over faces,
Iraki written
across stick chests.

In Jalula, the children draw us pictures, too.

In white chalk, on concrete walls,
a box-shaped Humvee with two antennae
rising like balloons from the hatch.
A stick soldier holds a machine gun;
he waves at us,
us, in the Humvees.

Further down the wall, a stick man holds
an RPG
aimed toward the Humvee,
the waving soldier’s head—
what the children want for Christmas,
or what they just want.

Copyright © 2013 Hugh Martin All rights reserved
from The Stick Soldiers
BOA Editions, Ltd
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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