Friend or Foe

The first Christmas I spent away from home
was when I joined the armed forces

Basic training finished
waiting for the moment to join my Battalion

Where will I be posted
somewhere exotic, perhaps
somewhere warm, perhaps
I ended up somewhere
someplace I did not want to be

Walking the streets
like a postman with a rifle
ready to deliver if needed
thankfully I wasn’t
but I was ready
but would I have
I’ll never know

I had some serious headaches back then
cowardly fright
cowardly tension
or just cowardly adrenaline

I hated every day of it
but also enjoyed some of the hours
the camaraderie
the honest friendship
the pure trust
knowing my back
was being watched
by Friend

and also by Foe

As I once found out
while watching in my tower
BOOM! two hundred yards
in front of me
they blow up a church
or part of it

No casualties but bricks
and my ears

This was my first taste
of life in the real world

my first Christmas away from home
I was 18
lost but for a St Christopher from Mom
I was with friends
the best friends anyone
can have are the ones
watching your back
while you watch theirs

bonds grow strong
and last

yet – flip it and remember
they have Christmas too
don’t forget
families too
back watchers too
bonds too

don’t hate me for flipping it

I know
what Christmas is like
as a soldier
so I am allowed to see
the other side

so for all you soldiers


I wish you a Merry Christmas

and perhaps
this year
peace will begin
to spread throughout

and no one will
have to miss their first

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