Corporal Taylor, never first,
got off a desperate, tiny burst,
but fell in flame that slaughtered night,
felt the seven bullets bite:
two below his fingers in the stock,
one the trigger housing took,
three pierced his wet fatigues to pass
unchallenged through the wheezing grass.
But dulce, dulce et decorum est
the iron crab that starred his chest.
He lit a Kool, dragged it deep
to drug the demons back to sleep,
thanked the starbedazzled wife
whose superstition saved his life.
That: a skein of smoky bars
where mangled trinkets fit to scars
won smoky drinks and smoky eyes,
smoky voices, smoky sighs.
He hid from those he drank among
the smoky fingers in his lung.