A Choice of Song

The guys in the tank
are heading back to barracks.
That’s why they’re singing.
They mean no disrespect
to the makeshift graves
they pass along the way.
But they made it through the day
without losing a man.
There are no songs about that –
at least none they know –
so “Bohemian Rhapsody” it is –
as tuneless as a buzz-saw
cutting into the limbs of a damp oak.

Nothing much happened
during the day.
Nobody fired mortar
in their direction.
No kids tossed rocks
against the vehicle’s
dust-blown carapace.
They didn’t get off one shot
in anger or in peace.
And nor did they
crunch down on
any roadside bombs
So they sing with gusto,
that soldier’s version of relief.
And “Bohemian Rhapsody” is perfect.
They’re saving the love songs
for a different war.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in New World Writing, North Dakota Quarterly and Dissident Voice. Latest books, ”Between Two Fires”, “Covert” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in California Quarterly, Birmingham Arts Journal, La Presa and Shot Glass Journal. Read other articles by John.