Soldier Boy

Doug One

Photograph by Charles Reed, life-long friend. 1968

Soldier Boy

A casualty of war ~ fifty years later

Standing six feet

five inches

An athlete

a saint

A poet

a songwriter

a musician

A sometimes too-compassionate

business person

a stand-up comic

Time tortures him as he works

to block out

childhood pain

He saves my life

not once

Three times.

He goes to war

at eighteen

“For our country,”

says he

“Because Papa went,”

and he craves

Papa’s approval

It is an unquiet

and complicated time.

Like many of our young

when called into service;

Responding to

guerrilla warfare

confronted by a small child

Strapped with explosives

Running toward his squad

He removes the child

with robot-like coldness


a devoted lover

of all children

Forty-five years later

he tells me,

his tag-along baby sister.

He returns to the

United States of America

After Korea and Vietnam

He is a wise and

very old man of twenty-two

People spit on him

Yell at him

No job

No creature comforts

Yet he is first to arrive

to cradle me,

his baby sister,

upon the death

of my only son.

He runs ….

and runs ….

and runs some more

To avoid

and then embrace




And Christ.

Life gallops on


His path continues

with seething harshness

Diagnosed with labels

Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Agent Orange


Heart Disease



Brain hemorrhaging


Each contracted

in Korea and Vietnam

Between ages eighteen and twenty-two.

I watch

My heart

on standby

I cannot breathe

Life’s ending


I sing to him

Three thousand miles

separate us

I cannot get to him

to hold him

as the physical body


Roads are shut down

Weather is severe.

Every two hours I call

A kind assistant places

the phone to his ear

I hear his efforts to speak

His moans

I hear his precious breath

He is comatose

yet cries

a single tear

upon hearing my voice and

His favorite song


I sing more

And more

And then I cannot stop singing

And laughing

Once again,

I remind him of the time

he drops me

from high in the air

putting my head

through the television screen

when we are little . . .

And the samurai sword

that impales his foot

to the wood floor

of our home

After calling me

for help

he has to pull it out himself


I have fainted.


I sing all the songs

he begged for

as a child.

As the last unsteady

note fades

I know

God is watching

My brother

is finally


~ fawnrising2015 Published on, Great Britain, 2015DouglasDavidMurpheyHonored3.17.2015 (2)