I see my face before I was born—

discover how much one person

can love another. Words elusive

as quicksilver reveal my soul’s imposter.

The shapes and curves in my stone wall

become a chorus line of naked ladies

dancing to the lacquered music of the sky.

I’m back on the Pusan perimeter —

artillery barrages explode my ears

inducing the tinnitus-wailing

of an abandoned child.

Shrapnel pierces my chest.

I ‘m on my way on a stretcher

to the aurora borealis.

I search the frozen sky

for a rotary-rescue chopper,

sickened by the stink

of human excrement

fertilizing barren fields.

I can’t believe stars still shine

on a ground of littered corpses.

A rifleman’s severed head

rolls down the hill.


I concentrate on the clink

and clank of my empty canteen

bouncing along the rocky,

blood-soaked roads.

Awakened to my joyless life,

I vow to shed my mottled skin

of sweat and fear.

Milton P. Ehrlich 199 Christie St

Leonia, N.J. 07605