Huddled in a shell hole, pressed into the mire,
The battle weary rifleman escapes the enemy fire,
The vicious hiss of bullets passing overhead,
Sometimes followed by a cry and a comrade falling dead.
The mud filled hole holds him fast, like a magic spell,
Offering temporary sanctuary, from the outside, screaming hell,
It takes all his fortitude to get back on his feet,
But he knows it must be done, his fear he has to beat.
A whistles shriek splits the air signaling the attack,
As he struggles to escape the ooze, that clings, and holds him back,
with a final heave he is free and prepares to venture out,
As a mortar shell splits the earth, and erupts in a muddy gout.
Falling back into the hole his breath coming in pants,
The broken earth reveals the remains, of previous occupants,
Sobbing now in terror he lunges to his feet,
And scrambles from the shell hole, his destiny to meet.
He staggers as if dazed toward the enemy line,
Deaf to the screams of men and machine gun bullets whine,
Till all at once he is in their trench fighting for his life,
When as in a dream he sees the face of his long dead, loving wife.
To the enemy soldier cowering down upon his knees,
It seemed as if the rifleman is answering his tearful pleas,
The look of repose on the rifleman’s face, is one he’ll not forget,
As he lunges and runs him through with a bloody bayonet.
He looks at the enemy soldier and smiles through the pain,
And as his life slowly ebbs away sees his wife’s smile again.
His muddied crumpled body lies as if in a deep sleep,
As the grim reaper passes on to other appointments he must keep.