Soldiers of the Queen
The foam on the incoming tide bubbles crimson
As it leaches the blood from the sand.
The waves lap softly at the tangle of slaughtered flesh,
Rocking blood-spattered corpses gently, and
Like the arms of a mother for her child,
Comforts, and croons a solitary song.
Unleashed hair floats on
The surface of the sea
Creating halo’s for the dead.
Who stay alive, only in the head
Of those left behind, to grieve and ponder
The reason they were spared.
Purple lips scream silently to God,
Like the indelible writing, on the
Ineffaceable markers intoning, ‘here lies.’
And sightless eyes
Stare into the depths,
And watch for nothing.
Soldiers of the Queen, beautiful and young,
With life still yet undone.
Washed in the deep, wrapped in the loving memory
Of those who wait to be reunited,
With comrades, that shared a lifetime,
In a few unassuming months.
Precious lives cut short, never
To be wives or mothers or friends.
How capricious is life that it ends
On distant shores, and sends
The undead home, to weather
The unending nightmares of the soul.
All the words of grief and gratitude
Won’t give them back the life, that
Was prematurely snatched from them.
We give it just the same, and then
Feel temporarily relieved of guilt,
For being still alive.
They served in obedience to their country.
They died a hero’s death.
They died without pride or prejudice,
With their bravery left indelibly on the memory
Of family, friend and foe, who scream their grief to God.
And so it ends, for these brave Soldiers of the Queen.
Or does it?
The Portable Highfilator
Gary Alan Rose
Mo and Jane were married for a very long time; indeed they were both quite old. Mo received a good pension from the factory where he worked and both he and Jane collected Social Security. Although they had plenty of money, they were always looking for bargains.
Because of their age, they spent most of their time at home watching television. Mo was amazed at the great deals he saw on TV commercials, but Jane paid attention to their prices. “Look at that,” Mo said. “A Portable Highfilator for only $19.95! It has a battery backup, a lint trap, and it comes in three different colors! Let’s go down to Bob’s Hardware and get one.”
Jane thought about it for a second and had to agree that $19.95 was a good price. “Alright, Mo, but I get to pick out the color.” Into the car they went as fast as they had moved since passing the age of 60.
Within 30 minutes they were home again admiring the bright red Highfilator. Oh, the lights were splendid, the purring noise of the motor was comforting and the whole unit could easily be pulled from room to room. “Wait a minute,” said Jane. “What does this thing do?” “You got me,” said Mo. “I’ll go back and get the instruction book.”
Another half hour passed before Mo returned. He looked sad and confused. After a long silence, Mo replied. “The instruction book hasn’t been printed yet, but the price for it is almost twenty dollars.”
“That’s outrageous”, screamed Jane. “It’s a good thing it’s guaranteed for three years!” “That’s great”, said Mo, “but how will we know when it’s not working?”
The Good Stuff
No one can forget that sound, that unique, penetrating crack of a wooden baseball bat and the subsequent roar of the crowd as Casey closes in on first base. The American birthright, baseball, lingers in the minds of all kids, eight to 80, and all the pain and joy that comes with the memories of a strikeout when the bases are loaded or the celebrated home run when we become instant heroes, if only for a day or maybe even for a couple hours.
Growing up had its pleasures in a small town when we found algebra boring and couldn’t wait to get out onto the diamond to show how tough and manly we were, even at age 10. And then we lived that game from week to week, providing it wasn’t raining or snowing.
High school also gave us the wood shop where taxing the brain was not as important as working with our hands. We had the chance to show our stuff there too, making small wooden tables and dumb little shelf brackets. I chose to make a baseball bat. And I relished in the purr of the lathe and the chunk-chunk of the projectile-like splinters that covered not only the floor but me as well.
How I arrogantly gloated when the teacher announced, “Good job son!” Another Babe Ruth in the making I thought!
Time and high school faded into the distance and life went on, to marriage and fatherhood and a satisfying career. Looking back into the mirror of time was, and still is a joy of sorts.
But then my baseball bat ran off somewhere and hid, seemingly forever. It made no effort whatsoever to be found. Didn’t I deserve some continuing recognition?
And then it happened, on a return visit back to family and farm many years later. It stood there silently in a corner of our cavernous barn, a structure that reeked heavily of stale cow manure. There it was, proud as can be, but disheveled and tired-looking in its own way. There were chinks out of its exterior and in a ray of sunlight I caught sight of the huge cobweb glistening from its handle that extended over to the window sill nearby. It was as though it cried out hugely that it needed resurrecting.
But then I had a son who, at this early age, knew exactly what a baseball bat was for. With renewed dedication I brought it back to life down in our basement, albeit half its original size. I sanded it and polished it with the love and affection that only a proud parent can have, even if that child is, for the moment, at least, only a baseball bat. Now my son has a gift for his son to reflect upon.