I am in my bunker walling in again. Searching for ammo, kicking the rats in the scrotum, (or what might be deemed scrotum if they had one…). I smoke a nervous cigarette (cigarettes are always nervous). My ammo is my excuse for a few more minutes of solitude. Thud! Thud! Thud! The shells over head are rattling the earth, and the dirt falls upon me. It falls down a sick brown kind of confetti. The bombs burst like wombs upon no-man’s-land, were many men live and die, and many nations too, and many how centuries have bent and broken there?
I am sure someone is boiling a pot of communal tea before battle. Someone is praying to Mary, someone to Melanie, someone to a secret Derek, polishing their rifles carefully, straightening their uniforms. Swearing oaths and reaping prayers, psyching up for the mad rush. I recall an infantry man saying to me: 'the existence of the Universe was optional’ Who ticked the box? I ask myself, needing such a choice reconsidered now more than ever. My bunker is the entire universe right now, my private ward. Young, soft in the head, wandering about my mind, made nervous by the mountain I cannot climb down from. My mind trapped like a rat in a skull, scratching my scrotum, biting my nails, pacing the floor, worrying if the general will notice my absence.
‘You need a rude awakening Son!' He said to me with certainty to me at roll call. 'Get a hold of your weakness.' Of course, he is right; though I won’t tell him that. To acquiesce, to put the hands up clear in the air and admit: it was me, I could not cope, weakness wracked me. It is hard to concede our failing. I was foolish and untrained. I was laughing in the face of responsibilities stone weight. I wanted to become lost in the whirl of time. There was a shadow in my thoughts. An unspeakable thing. I wanted to elude forever the great seriousness of age and the great honour of war.
What can be done, truth speaks through many passing voices, listen. I had large sheepish brown boy eyes and I nod in agreement. I can not fight my way out of a paper bag. I am not much of a solider. The war fights itself. All wars are one war. One perpetual human war: the flowers garland themselves. The blood is overwrought. I am overwrought. This whole thing reeks of the navel: a longing for the return to the womb.
Despite myself, I soldier on, a mere 23, my rife like a snake from some mad taxidermist. My hands like great roots of some mind tree. But I am not much of a mind; I am infantry, infantile, infinite midst the decibels of shells. I’ll be gone in a quick mist. Ack! I could murder a good woman right now. By that I mine, I could love one, I could fold myself into her, but I’m so bad at folding, I do it either to eagerly or not at all, I have all the hallmarks of a bad amateur with women: over confident, self-conscious, showy. But! I am too harsh. They are equally shaky immature flower openers of lust. They could be English, French, Italian, Japanese, but each one I would kiss, with ten times the lips. Ah, but these women of love and ball squeeze and heart ache are a million bombs away, a thousand realities from here.
The Commander and Chiefs whisper voodoo into each others ears, conspiratorial, stroking some grandiose behemoth scheme, which, I we you them us our all, know nothing about. I am riddled with doubt. But it passes till death do us part. Logistics/practicalities/numbers: This is a Commanders Holy tablet. There is no doubt. We don’t have much time to learn the steps, before we’re on under the flare of the bright Light.
Here I pace the floor expecting the worst of life. The rats are at ease in the corner. I am thin. My sabre glints its third eye. I am barely a man but you should see me animal on the park. Fired up, trench-wise, feral and frantic, primed for destruction. Switched alive, ready for Agamemnon, Troy – some Battlefield of Medals and casualty rolls. This is the place were tiny pawns: stand side by side: explode one way or the other, who rush into the lions jaw, who pour into the fiery chasm of artless war, who rush like fireflies fire wise into the belly of Moloch, Ares, Madeleine, Medusa, who rush hell bent toward the future, screaming like a choir of eunuchs.wailing through bestial throats the blood of Worlds pummelling.
I am Ready. I am Fierce. I am Possessed. I am Fire of Flesh. I am Skyscraper. I am Wall. I am Metal. I am Jaw. My bullets shall kiss the blood and with that paint themselves and laugh with the shrieks of whores! GOD MAKES MEN MAD, BUT SOMETIMES, WAR MAKES MEN GODS. Insane enough to return again and again.