The Color of the Enemy

Ken Ashworth
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Joined: September 3rd, 2017, 10:05 am

August 18th, 2018, 1:07 am #1

When you were just a kid,
all Army men were green,
and the only way to tell
the bad guys was by
the shape of a Kraut helmet.

The Prone Sniper
The Kneeling Bazooka Man
The Standing Bayonet Guy
The-One-Arm-Waving "Follow Me" Dude

chin strap undone,
cigarette in his mouth,
who didn't give a shit
about killing Nazis.

You lined formations,
plotted casualty rates,
radioed for reinforcement.

It never bothered you,
the sound of other kids
playing catch, riding bikes,
climbing trees.

You always gave unfair
tactical advantage to your
side: a Lincoln log for
cover, sniper hidden
in a shoe,

because you were called
of God to vanquish evil
from the face of the earth.

And you would, too,
there on the Berber,
alone and quiet.
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FranklyDire
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Joined: June 7th, 2015, 6:45 pm

August 18th, 2018, 3:53 am #2

Ha, childhood memories
I loved my lead soldiers too.
Brought back the fun of being a child.
Well written.
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Osel
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Joined: June 20th, 2007, 3:33 am

August 18th, 2018, 12:44 pm #3

I read this some time ago. remember so much of it. It’s a good poem.  Maybe now is  a good time to send it out. The whole soldier / war  thing was always so mysterious to me, but i can see the allure, with this.  Good poise between the play and the “call”. And that makes it all even more sad, somehow, 
and yet also, in some way OK.  Suspect you have a number of poems in the drawer that are likewise fine, and finished.  Title might be new? 
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Joined: April 9th, 2011, 9:30 am

August 18th, 2018, 2:22 pm #4

Yes I too seem to remember this, very relatable for us baby boomers. I would paint blood on my men and make bandages with strips of old cloth. What a warped kid I was some of my soldiers were even set fire. Just a thought, how about merging the last two stanzas and cutting the line, and you would, too,

because you were called
of God to vanquish evil 
from the face of the earth,
there on the Berber, 
alone and quiet.
Dale
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Osel
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Joined: June 20th, 2007, 3:33 am

August 18th, 2018, 2:38 pm #5

i quite like “and you would, too”, for the way it doth protest, ... evincing a vulnerability that might have saved this N from becoming another soldier.... 
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russkigypsy
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Joined: August 18th, 2013, 10:27 pm

August 18th, 2018, 2:55 pm #6

This is an excellent writ. Concise, memory evoking, vivid personal experience, an archetype!
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Ken Ashworth
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Joined: September 3rd, 2017, 10:05 am

August 18th, 2018, 8:48 pm #7

Thanks to everyone. Really good to see the forum well populated.

Dale, I'd set my in fire, rin over them with a push mower. You're not that bad🎈

Alison I recall your initial reaction, something about " a boy taken by the world" I believe.

This is an upgrade from the last poem a day challenge. Thank you for your comnents,all
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Osel
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Joined: June 20th, 2007, 3:33 am

August 19th, 2018, 9:20 pm #8

totally submittable now. good poem.
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Owl
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Owl
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Joined: January 21st, 2016, 12:29 pm

August 19th, 2018, 9:53 pm #9

Engaging and enjoyable poem -- well-written and with just the right tone.

You forgot the guy looking for landmines with a metal detector, though! (Not a serious suggestion to add him to the poem, btw).

"Of God"? "By God"? Hmmm. I'm torn. 

I'm also torn between suggesting "quiet and alone" for the final line or recommending you leave it as is. It's a matter of emphasis desired, I suppose. The meter of "quiet and alone" is a headless iambic trimeter line (and pleasing coming off the feminine ending of "Berber"), with "and" being stressed by metrical promotion and alone receiving emphasis as the final word in the poem. Moreover, the poem would then concludes with an accented syllable. 

In contrast, "alone and quiet" is an iambic dimeter line with a feminine ending. Quiet is emphasized by position and the unaccented syllable with which the poem concludes gives it a trailing off feeling, a fade out, a calm resignation. 

It depends on what you're going for. 

Food for thought. 
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FranklyDire
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Joined: June 7th, 2015, 6:45 pm

August 22nd, 2018, 5:45 am #10

I can't see this as a meter poem
even if the odd line appears so.

Kids mimic, and if all they see and hear is war films 
on TV and re-runs of the Lone Ranger
then they will use that in their imagination.

If we only shows films of Buddha
and monks with sticks
then they would use that for play.

I always dreamed of being a soldier, because 
I loved mud and water, but we grow out of these things.
Nevertheless the poem brings back to us
those magical moments of make believe.

The poem's strength, especially for boys, is 
in the fact that we can all relate (boys).

I never abused my little men, after play they were 
carefully wrapped in a linen cloth and stored
in an old Cadbury box, until my mother threw them
out when I was away on sea. I still grieve.

Sob!
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