May. 29, 2011
Red broken brick chunks crunched beneath
my boots. Our Humvees were weighed down
by forty fragmentary grenades,
a case of incendiaries, a .50 caliber machine
gun and 10 cases of ammunition.
We cut down the hill side
with 40 pounds of body armor,
M-4 carbines, seven 20 round round magazines
of 5.56 and gallons of water. It
seemed so incongrous, the blood fed forest,
land of ancient empires, genocide. Persians,
Alexander and Bucephalus, Julius Ceasar, Me.
The tall grass gave off like a blast furnace
& my skin leaked down the valley
of my spine like insects crawling down my back.
We found an abandoned village, windows gone,
some furniture, a child's shoe. Blood on the walls and
floor like black tar after years and dust and earthquakes.
Here & there a penis drawn on the wall -- a woman raped -- or a
knife -- somebody murdered -- sometimes whole families.
Joel Chappelle served for six years as a Cavalry Scout in the Wisconsin National Guard and the U.S. Army, reaching the rank of Sergeant. He has since been honorably discharged and now works for a law firm in Milwaukee