Heading to a Country Church

Heading down the two lane,
Clouds are overhead,
Pressed against the glass;
Blue sky framing the pane.

I drive, navigate past
Corn standing tall
In neat, ordered lives
And beans in low, squat nests.

A fa├žade – all a show
That hides the dirt
And covers over
The chaos down below.

Up ahead, like pillars,
Beams of light strike
Through the breaking clouds;
Slough away the filler.

I’m told it all depends
On what you are,
Maybe who you are,
Before the story ends.

But I’ve no time to search,
So past the nests
And neat, ordered corn
I make my way to church.


I sometimes get asked to preach in nearby churches and, as my life is a bit higgledy-piggledy right now, it struck me how neat and clean it sometimes appears in church, when we’re really heading along in a fog hoping for a little light to clear things up.


Too Hot and a Cot

I sit on the edge of a cot.
My boots are off, and also socks,
Because it’s noon and bloody hot –
Heat radiating from the rocks.

I drink lots of lukewarm water
That flows from pores like tiny springs
And just seems to make me hotter;
A crust of salt around me rings.

We hear it coming, hit the deck –
Kaboom! That one is way too close!
Another hits, my RP checks;
But all I think of are bare toes.

Heedless of my bodyguard’s shout,
I hobble off to get my boots
Before I head to our dugout
To sit, silent, like budding roots.

These rocket attacks are a bitch
And I sure resent donning boots
Because my feet still ache and itch
From several weeks’ warm abuse.

A call comes on the radio
“Man down!” We head to BAS.
A round hits near, but still we go
Making our way through this hot mess.

Things like that make me stop and think
That nearby round was just a dud
I didn’t stop or even blink
So close I came to spilling blood.

Why was I spared, not even scratched?
Gunny the other day got dead.
He has little kids, barely hatched
A whistle, boom, and no more dad.

Our mortars are returning fire
I find our wounded man is fine
Later, back on my cot and tired
Still too hot, Gunny on my mind.

It's hard to convey just how great the pleasure is, after so much time in the heat and dust and dirt to just have my feet exposed to the air - and thus, how much I resented having to reshod.

And it's hard to convey just how great the pleasure of knowing a man like Gunny B. and having him around to make that heat and dust and dirt a little more bearable - and how much I resent losing him.

The title comes from a phrase used regarding treatment of battle stress – “three hots and a cot”.