I fought our leader tooth and nail
at trying to force me to learn
for a silly badge I would earn.
This wasn’t a camp, more like jail.
My pleas ignored, I met defeat.
We left for the run-down city
where what we saw wasn’t pretty
in this humid, sweltering heat.
Vacation means you shouldn’t work.
It’s a rule in summer season.
They were homeless for a reason,
or so thought this uninformed jerk.
Given a plate with dreadful food,
I went to an elderly gent
with matted hair and fingers bent
and strangely detached attitude.
He dined in his bed on the floor
and didn’t take time to speak.
When he did talk, my knees felt weak.
“I was young when I went to war.
I had never been off of the farm
and I’d never fired a gun.
One night, around quarter to one
our Captain sent out an alarm.
“The enemy snuck on our site
and began an ugly rampage.
Both sides would be forced to engage
in a bloody and deadly fight.
At its end, so many were dead.
I was wounded but felt no pain.
The image was etched on my brain
and today still haunts me in bed.”
He sat up and struggled for breath.
It would start off strong and then flee.
His last words were said to thank me
before he departed in death.
I sadly made it back to camp
and waited for daylight to die.
That night, a selfish brat would cry
in a tent with a turned off lamp.
Those who gave much with no reward
are those we frequently forget.
No day goes by I don’t regret
how heroes are often ignored.
As I look back on what I learned
that summer when I was a child,
I recall how this soldier smiled.
It was more than a badge I earned.
© Susan Schoeffield
This is my lengthy effort for the Day 25 prompt at Creative Bloomings “Granada Camp for Wayward Poets” to write a poem about service day at camp and doing something for someone else. I think I’ve mentioned before I don’t usually write long poems but this seemed to write itself. I was just along for the ride.