The soldier has been through security.
He’s done the kissing,
shaken the hands,
surveyed the faces,
“Yes, I’d die for every one of these.”
But now he’s at gate 11,
hunched into a plastic chair,
his roll behind his knee,
nothing but strangers
as far as his eyes can see.
If the roadside bomb explodes,
if the local recruit turns his rifle
on this unwitting American liberator,
these are the ones he’d be dying for:
the drunk guy at the bar,
the old woman with the black moustache
coughing and spluttering over cigarette withdrawal,
the pock-marked kid with his head in an I-Pod,
the brats whining, the bored young girl,
the scruffy looking family in bulging shorts
and Mickey Mouse t-shirts.
His ultimate sacrifice is not
what it used to be,
He’s not even dead yet
and look who’s living.
15 AND PREGNANT
A month or two from now
there’ll be the child of a child.
It will grow up with a mother
who seems like a sister.
It will be pointed at
in supermarket aisles
as much as it is patted
on its curled up bright pink fingers.
The good work of the uterus ignored,
it will be the brood of whispers,
of how will she support the poor thing
when she’s never in her life held down a job.
There’ll be no pride in the girl
on her sixteenth birthday.
No smile either.
She’ll settle on endurance
as a facial expression.
On a warm Sunday afternoon,
she feels her little man
kicking and grabbing,
can almost hear him giggling.
The two of them occupy the patio
on the edge of a busy world.
“God bless the child,”
she sings softly to a passing car.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Mudfish and Spindrift with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Sanskrit and Louisiana Literature.