photo from pixabay
*Author Notes: I was told that it has one strong voice at the beginning, but frankly, as it’s a three-part conversation with each character being created by dialogue alone, I think all three characters are equally srong and marked, regardless of whose “side” you’re on, a question which shouldn’t even arise. The war on my mind right now is actually the war of Russia against Ukraine, but whereas I think the Ukrainian people imaginative and creative enough to appreciate the issues, I don’t have the skills necessary to make it particular to them, so I’ve just cast it in an imaginable American war background.
The Soldier: A Poem in Three Voices
So, Dan, I found out what he does for us, That kid I told you about. --Oh, yeah? Yeah. And you’d never guess. --I’m not here to guess, --I’m here for people to tell me things, --That’s why I’m who I am. --So, who is he? Wait, I’ll let him tell you himself. But get this: He makes lists. --What? --Lists of what? Whatever we need lists of. He’s our chief list maker: Need a list of weapons, Call Foxy, and he’ll make a list. Need a list of food orders, Call Foxy, and as quick as you please, He’ll make a list of food to get from Company. Our whole war seems to be run on his back, So seriously he takes his job. --Foxy? Is that his name? The one they all call him by, anyway. Here, here he comes, I called for him. Hey, Foxy, now here’s Dan, Major General Dan Wilteritz, You can tell him anything you would tell me. **Oh, no sir! Not at all, sir! I would never, sir! **Against regulations, sir. Now, Foxy. First of all, what’s your real name, let’s go on that basis, So you’ll know I’m not joshing with you. What’s your name and rank, soldier? Snap to attention, now! **Corporal First Class Andy—Andrew Beddings, sir. Okay, at ease. Now Andrew, you see I’m calling you by your first name so you know, I’m serious. Andrew, tell Dan here just how you knew There was a security breach on campus of the compound last week. **Are you sure, sir? I mean, you told me not to tell no one. Anyone. Yes, as sure as I’m General Pete, Peter Brown, of Special Ops. Tell Daniel here, my friend Dan, who needs to know, And may even needs some lists made soon, How you knew there was a security breach at 21:00 hours just there At the place where you were supposed to go to make some lists the next day. Go ahead, now, I’ll answer for it, you won’t get into any trouble. Tell Dan. **Well, sir, I dreamed it. --You did what? --You dreamed it? --What, fell asleep on duty? Saw something that made you wake up fully? Heard a noise? **No, sir, sir, Major General sir, I dreamed it. **I dream like that, sometimes. **I was just in my bed on campus. **And I dreamed that I was in a room where when I got fully awake— **But you see, I was only dreaming I was awake, sir— --Yes, okay, so, Foxy—Andrew, is it?—you dreamed: when you got wide awake? **Well, I noticed that there was the door open and only on the latch, sir. **And sir, when I went to look at it, I knew I hadn’t, ner no one I knew had, **left it on the latch. And then, I fell asleep again all the way in the dream, you see. **And then, when I woke up from dreaming inside the dream, if you follow me sir, **No, sorry, sir, I didn’t mean—to tell you what to do, sir— --Quite all right, Andrew, so you dreamed it a second time the same night? **Yes, sir, I dreamed a second time that when I woke up from a dream, **the door was only on the latch, AND I KNEW that second time that I had locked it, too. So, when awake, I went to Abby Winslow, she’s the Informations Clerk, **and I told her that there had been two security breaches on campus, **Something about gate not closed, and she laughed at me at first, sir, Major General, sir, **but when my friend Klingston the night guard told her better check, **just to be sure, she did, sir, and they found two locks just busted straight through, **who knows how, by parties unknown. And then they found two enemy soldiers **the next day, hiding out in one of the dugouts, just waiting with guns drawn. **But the funny thing to Klingston, sir, I didn’t laugh, sir, but they had fallen asleep. **So, it’s like I made touch with them in my dream, sir. **If you’ll pardon me for having weird thoughts, sir. --This is a war, soldier, Andrew, we all have a few weird thoughts. --But yours have paid off. So, you dream a lot like this, do you? **From time to time, sir, not regular, but from time to time. --Well, you be sure and keep us informed, now, you hear? --Tell General Peter here about anything. So he hears about it, right away. **Yes sir, sir. **And sir? Sirs? Yes, Andrew, Foxy, what is it? Don’t worry about a thing, Just tell me when it happens, I’ll make sure you have a direct line in, Like Dan here says. What more can I help you with Before you go on with your important and assigned job of making lists for us? **Well, sir, I have just heard where we can get us some apples, sir. **Begging your pardon, sirs. Apples? Do you mean, like the fruit? Apples? **Yes, sirs. Well, I hate to mention it sirs, **And I’m not complaining, sirs, **But you know, a lot of the soldiers are getting— **oh, sirs, I’m so sorry, but we don’t get fresh fruit regular— Do you mean, they’re getting constipated, bound up? **I’m so sorry, sir, for mentioning something so, so— **but, yes, sir. And I know where we can get some apples, **just as sure as anything. Or my name isn’t Andrew, sirs, and sirs, it is. Okay, say we need a good supply of fresh apples, where would I find them, Foxy? **Well, sir, now, you’d have to talk to Private Laverdi, sir, **she’s the one who saw it. --Ah, reconnaissance! Okay, that’s something material. **Well, maybe you would think not, sir, but everyone who knows her relies on her. Well? What is it that makes you hesitate, Corporal? **Sir, she saw it in a vision when it was her turn to do the cooking. --A vision? You mean, like—looking into the distance, and seeing a, a vision before your eyes? **Yes, sir, as I understand it, sir. But I don’t see visions, sir. No, we understand, Foxy, you dream dreams. Okay, we’ll certainly look into it. But not a word of any of this to anyone else, okay? **Okay, sir. I did already tell a couple people before I talked to you, sir, **but I won’t no more. Anymore. Grand! Well, you’ll be one of the first to get some apples, assuming—we find some. **Thank you, sir. You can count on Private Laverdi, she won’t steer you wrong. Fine, soldier. Okay, you go to chow and get something good for yourself, Tell them my orders. Here, I’ll put it through on my phone to them. There, got it. Not a word more about the dream, okay? And if you have more, just come on ‘round. That’s all for now, soldier, you’ve done well. Ten-hut! Okay, dismissed. So, what do you think of that, Dan? --Well, in the short run, I think you’re leaving yourself open --to every hair-brained halfwit who has a nightmare. Nope, I don’t know about Private Laverdi yet, But so far as I’ve asked around, Foxy Beddings is the soul of discretion When it comes to duty. Devoted, even. --Well, we all know the police are widely believed to use psychics here and there. --They don’t treat them too well, but certainly use them. We can do better than that. I’ll look out after this one. You know, what is it in the Bible, That bit about, I may have it backwards, but “Your young men shall dream dreams, and your old men shall see visions.” --Now you’re really giving me the creeps, Peter. --I’m going to need some apples. Stop, now, don’t make me laugh, it was a valid concern, they do need healthy bowels, too. Well, we’ll need a quick game of softball to get our heads out of this incident. Get in touch when you’ve got your team ready, I’ve got mine. --Will do. I have to get back too now, things nearer the front. Stay well, my friend. You too, Dan. You, too.
Bio: Victoria Leigh Bennett (she/her), greater Boston, MA area, born WV. Ph.D., English & Theater. Website: creative-shadows.com. In-Print: “Poems from the Northeast,” 2021; OOP but on website: “Scenes de la Vie Americaine (en Paris)” [in English], 2022. Between Aug. 2021-December 2022, Victoria will have published at least 28 times with: Fevers of the Mind Poetry & Art, Roi Faineant Literary Press, Barzakh Magazine, Amphora Magazine, The Unconventional Courier, The Alien Buddha Press, The Madrigal Press, Discretionary Love, Winning Writers, Cult of Clio. She has been accepted with 4 works for Bullshit Literary Magazine, 4/21/23. Victoria is the organizer of the poets’ collective @PoetsonThursday on Twitter with Dave Garbutt and Alex Guenther and participates in #PoetsonThursday from @email@example.com & @firstname.lastname@example.org, which is run by Dave and Alex. Twitter: @vicklbennett. Victoria is ocularly and emotionally disabled.