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  To Die in Queensland

(Epitaph for an Australian Special Forces soldier who survived foreign wars to be defeated by a cancerous enemy within.)

In him the desire for warmth
As his flesh melts and recedes,
Diminishing almost daily.

In him the power of memory
As he sickens, weakens, life leeches
Away into a warm climate.

Lonely in rearing…
Career both intellect and violence.
Internalizing the idea of enemy.
Enemies he trains to fight.
To speak their language, know their ways…
He calls it "intelligence."
He calls it "surveillance."
Constantly tense and watching…
In case he is overwhelmed.
In case he is captured.
In case he is imprisoned.

Lonely in living…
And always the rain.
Sliding silver city rain as he
Marries a woman for comfort.
Drenching living jungle rain as he
Kills others for duty.
The women impart no comfort,
Whether lying lifeless beneath his body
Or his gun. Sometimes he
Dreams there is no difference.
And always the rain.

In him the knowing of ending,
This enemy whose language
He does not speak.

In him desire, power, knowing…
New awareness, in translation.
To die in Queensland.

~June, 1998

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(Site last updated 08 December, 2008)

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