Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

by Patrick Walsh

There I was, a young man getting ready to jump,
Sprawled on the tarmac, hand on my reserve, paint-daubed
And smelling like ass from having to hump
An 80-pound ruck two weeks in the field;
Just wishing I could get me a piece

Of that prop-blast, a cool comb through the hair
Of the median grass. And standing up there
Is this seasoned NCO, a regular Falstaff in fatigues,
Easy and loose with a joke and a laugh.
What I had before me was an ancient form

Come down from hoplites and legionnaires.
The C-130 turned, taxied, and flew. It all got quiet again.
That’s when he let slip that old sage warhorse:
“Smoke ’em if you got ’em, men.”