Gert Strydom

Gold Star - 29,864 Points (03 April 1964 / Johannesburg, South Africa)

The Corporal - Poem by Gert Strydom

In basics the Corporal was no
Christian parent’s son
since no person
could give birth
to a demon
that liked to press
others with his boots
into the dirt.

Not grown up yet
his two stripes
went straight to his head
and the PT-instructor’s crossed swords
glowed menacing on his arm.

Through ash-holes with broken glass,
gravel roads with piercing stones
he made us leopard crawl
while live bullets
whipped up dirt
and running with truck tyres
on a pole
to him was fun
until some men fell
exhausted to the ground.

Personal letters he ripped open
and read aloud
for everyone to hear
and called unmarried people
with children bastards
and visited prostitutes
during the night
that well-off troops paid for
while his fiancée waited at home.

One night I saw that Corporal run
when he disturbed me
at three am
in the truck park
where I were on guard
and I cocked the FN-rifle
and it sounded
like feeding live ammunition
into the barrel.

He tripped over
something on the ground
and got to his feet
and started running away,
jumping right over
three barbered wire fences
and hysterically shouted
at me not to shoot
and suddenly life felt really good.

[FN-rifle= Old R1 rifle with wooden butt.]

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, February 2, 2010

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