by Cpl. Robert Lin Cook
Jan 1942-Sep 1945

Over and through
the berms
they plunged
their tracks
in full advance.
Their armor closed
to all the world,
they took no
gambler's chance.

The far horizon
drew them near
as harm's way 
they pursued.
The enemy lay
in wait,
no one knew
whatever their fate.
War is not
predictable,
as day to day
they go.

What lies behind 
the berms ahead?
What weapons
will they find?
Will they be 
ravaged by
the blast of
some super mine?
Will they have time
to cover up
if faced with
toxic gas?

Or will germs come
on vaporous wings?
Will they die
in choking gasps?
Will their faces burn
in blisters?
Will the stuff
invade their mask?
Will the heat
that surrounds them
smother breaths
that are their last?

Oh, I've fought in
jungles steaming
with the heat
and all the rest.
But I never had
to keep
all covered,
never carried
no gas mask.
So I say
with empathy
and with feeling 
for The Few:
If the Lord
were only willing,
we'd all be there
With you.

Semper Fi!

*     *     *
The author: Robert Lin Cook served with Reg. Weapons Co. (2d-2d) from 1942-44, at Guadalcanal and Tarawa during a 33-month overseas tour.

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