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Elaine Schear

Gun, Knife, Shovel

He slept in his helmet, stupefied, grit-mouthed, cold
half-dry mud advancing into his boots and pants.

He dreamed of Monte Cassino, its bleached abbey like the poster
at his father’s Brooklyn grocery, which had made him think of God

even though he didn’t believe in God. He woke there, propped-up
where mortars had sheered though a stone wall just behind.

He spit on his glasses, cleaned them whenever he thought it was safe,
which was never now.

He hated the stuff he had to carry: gun, knife, shovel, until
was it yesterday?

The shovel saved him, pitched that moment at an odd angle
just behind his head. He fell into shrapnel and stone,

got dragged by the guy behind him, who he could never repay
except to dig a soldier’s tomb into sickened ground.