Through the Night

Through the Night
by Gerald Andrew Regan

For the Marines slain near Khafji on January 29, 1991:
Lance Cpl. Frank Allen, Cpl. Stephen Bentzlin, Cpl. Ismael Cotto Jr.,
Lance Cpl. Thomas Jenkins, Lance Cpl. Michael Linderman Jr.,
Lance Cpl. James Lumpkins, Sgt. Garett Mongrella, Pfc. Scott Schroeder,
Lance Cpl. David Snyder, Pfc. Dion Stephenson, and Lance Cpl. Daniel B. Walker

“Light losses” near Khafji,
mused a General over the score,
While loved ones sent reeling
cry: “We can’t lose any more.”
 

II. The never-ending night

Am I now a builder
of death-dealing hate
Or a patriot fighting
to free tiny Kuwait?
 

Can’t help but wonder
as high tech stands poised
Ready to obliterate
Iraq’s and our boys.
 

So we stalk the enemy,
across a cold dune
But see only each other
in the vehicle’s gloom.
 

Chills climb my spine,
Get through the night!
We’re movin’ — too late
to ask what is right.
 

I clutch at my rifle,
grab for my heart,
Strain to find answers,
there in the dark.
 

As our hearse keeps moving,
on toward the foe,
Long for trips, gaudy strips,
when life seemed to glow.
 

III. What if

What? “Yea, sarge? Right.”
I swallow. “Ready to stroll!”
When the doors swing
we rock and we roll.”
 

My thoughts race
to flee the grim truth.
The skies — God’s umbrella —
rain death neath His blue.
 

Attempt a deep breath,
whisper “Semper fi!”
But can’t shake the
dread that I’ll die.
 

“Dear Jesus!”
A pause. “Is heaven a place …?
Or do I just disappear
from this bittersweet race?”
 

I look for a window
yearn for sunrise.
Hope that dawn might
silence these cries.

But instead, in the pall,
strike the pangs of my end.
And I tremble! Do the strains
Mean I’m already dead?
 

IV. Heart-seeking missile

Not checking, nor seeking
our flag or I.D.,
A Star-Spangled Maverick
speeds to answer my plea.
 

Through the firmament
the “smart” bomb flies,
Till the heat-seeking hellion
locks on love-seeking guys.
 

Drawn to hearts full of longing,
and lives barely lived,
It strikes us with fury,
takes all we could give.
 

Worlds within worlds,
now, never, no more!
All that we were
lies crushed on the floor.
 

T-shirts, cologne,
our last calls “Goodbye,”
All become relics,
as dreams go awry.
 

V. Forever

To those who still love us
and those still to come,
We don’t know why death called,
as we followed the drums.
 

But we followed our flag,
to far-off Kuwait,
Where liberty’s smothered
by greed and by hate.
 

Still we followed the banner,
and raced toward our fate —
A place in the stars
by St. Peter’s Gate.
 

Slain Marines and Iraqis —
no enemy in sight,
We now share the one road,
and push on through the night.

 

— Gerald Andrew Regan (1991)
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