Today's poem is by Richard Newman

Plane Full of Soldiers

5:50 am, a week before Christmas.

Twice now the flight attendant has bid them sing
"The Army Goes Rolling Along,"
and so they do, standing at attention,
sounding less like a march than off-key dirge,
both times the back half of the plane
breathing their last notes before the front half.

We unenlisted applaud their service.

They wear fatigues, combat boots.
They are children, blooming with bravado and acne.
One soldier calls her father on her iPhone,
nervous since she's never flown before.
Others play handheld video games.

Finally, our turn for takeoff.

How many of us will be dead by return trip,
our seats replaced by the living?
These kids soon shipped out to the Middle East
run far worse odds than the old couple next to me,
not talking but holding hands, gazing
out the window in silence.

As we ascend and dawn gathers more day,
blue builds upon blue — cascades of blue,
runway lights at dawn blue, smurf
and crystal blue, the blue of eighth grade eye-shadow,
positive home pregnancy test blue, prewashed
blue, ice cube in gin and tonic blue, back burner
at midnight blue, corpse in the morgue blue,
the richest blues of our protected skies.

Copyright © 2015 Richard Newman All rights reserved
from Boulevard
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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