Gene Pinter

Gallipoli - Poem by Gene Pinter

i. do unto thyself as thy would do unto the man who shot your best friend: let the wound fester, let it rot, let it turn gangrene. there are no medics here. when you wish death on another person, wish it on thyself, and wish it on his children, and yours, and on every poor bastard on this goddamn peninsula - they will never have to know what it means to repent for shallow graves and misplaced mortars.

ii. stop caring about the matthews, the marks, the lukes, the johns.

iii. she takes your hands and turns them into bayonets. she takes your tongue and twists it into a national anthem. she takes your fear and turns it into the glory of an empire. say your thanks, boy. it's too late to be a martyr.

iv. I asked you where the war started and you pointed at my chest.

v. a private was hit the night of the landing, and now he's leaking everywhere. he's screaming in your closet. he's bleeding onto pitt street. he's gone cold when the newspaper says it's going to happen again, that more privates are going to die in the exact same way. he wasn't buried, but your sons will be. we call this honour.

vi. father, father, you prayed, if I die tonight, I won't follow you home.

vii. you were nineteen years old: a matchstick soldier in a gasoline land. go ahead, son. set yourself on fire to keep winston churchill warm, set yourself on fire and run into no man's land, set yourself on fire and burn, burn, burn. nothing can touch you now. from the moment you leapt out of the trench til the moment the turks saw you, you were an eternal flame.

viii. you're immortal. when you think about it, they all are.

ix. your daughter's name is mary, the same as the nurse in egypt: mary with the tight brown curls, mary with the manchester accent and cornwall manners, mary with the graveyard in her mouth and breath like a morphine fever dream. it's just a coincidence, you tell me. our mary is not your mary. our mary will live to see her son die in another war.

x. peace be with you. please.

Topic(s) of this poem: war, world war i

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, December 3, 2015

Poem Edited: Thursday, February 23, 2017

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