That Was Close

by Ryan Stovall

Sometimes, all you can say
is, Well, that was close.
When a bullet slaps the rock
just inches from your knee,
spraying little slivers up,
like needles in your leg.
When a round goes past
your head and smacks into
a tree, gouging out a hole and
raining splinters on your egg.
When you’re lying in the prone,
and the bullets clip the grass
just inches from your helmet,
(and just inches from your ass).
When you’re standing in the shade
and they prune the higher trees,
dropping twigs down on your neck
dropping you down on your knees.
Or when the bomb goes off
too soon, before your truck
is even close, letting out
one great big boom,
and scattering debris.
Or when you’re looking
out the window of the heli
sent to save you from a
desperate firefight,
waiting while the others load,
waiting waiting waiting waiting,
while out there in the dark
you know the Taliban are aiming;
and through the Plexiglass you see
a red donut, an RPG.
Just before the donut eats
into your flying taxi,
(just lifting off the mountain),
it impacts on the rocks beneath,
and showers sparks up like a fountain.
It’s at these times when death assails you
that your words will always fail you.
When you’re pumping pure adrenaline
at a heart-exploding dose,
all your brain can think to say
is, Goddamn! That was close.