Brothers in Arms (Pantoum)

Brothers in arms eternal, or so we are told

Orders barked at kids, standing awkward in a line

From the day we sign on, until we get old

We are brothers in arms, made so by our time

 

Orders barked at kids, standing awkwardly in a line

Shrill whistle blows, and its over the bags

Brothers in arms, made so by our time

Bleeding no more for country or flags

 

Shrill whistle blows, its over the bags

Brothers falling, running, flying

Bleeding no more for country or flags

My brothers: In my arms, dying

 

Brothers falling, running, flying

From the day we sign on, until we get old

My brothers: In my arms, dying

Brothers in arms eternal, or so we are told

 

So, this is a bit of a different one. Its a pantoum, which is something I discovered about an hour ago and managed to squish together some words for it. It doesn’t always have to rhyme, but it involves rolling lines from previous stanzas into the next ones in a particular way. Why the short time frame? Well, I promised a poem a week, and I’m pretty sure that was nine days ago.

But in all seriousness, the lines have been developing for a while, and have been converted to match both form and the narrative of an upcoming works. The first variation of this poem was far more directed, far more individual. We are told all the time of the ‘brothers in arms’ mentality. We are family. We are there fore each other. From day one of training we are ordered to be so.

But that doesn’t really kick in, not the understanding anyway, until later. For me, it wasn’t until after I left the Navy. On more than one occasion I found myself on the phone or meeting in person for hours on end to simply sit by, completely incapable of doing anything, while they bawled their eyes out or sat in a pretty dark hole otherwise. Some of those friends didn’t win their battles with the myriad of mental health problems, others did and are ridiculously successful in all they do. For me, knowing without question that I couldn’t fix it and would be there anyway, and that they would do the same for me, it where that idea of ‘brothers’ (inclusive sisters and all sibling/family type relationships) really came to the fore.

That original is personal and not something I’m comfortable sharing just yet – not when the other person in it is easily identifiable and probably not comfortable sharing their struggles. But this is a thing for my WWI character to communicate his experience.

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