Sometimes at Night (poem)

Warning: Unsettling content. This is a poem based on a conversation I had many years ago with a soldier who had just returned from Iraq, and his reflections on his tour.

Sometimes at Night

For God and Country, I slaughter the enemy,
The way any faithful, obedient soldier should
But like me, the enemy thinks he’s right.
Like me, he believes that his cause is good.

We were sent over here to free these people
But I wonder if war can win minds and hearts.
I know a good soldier shouldn’t ask questions, 
And they don’t matter when the shooting starts.

Our God’s on our side, and their God is on theirs. 
I don’t have much faith left, so I do what I must.
Just like in Vietnam, the locals shelter our enemy.
I’m afraid of everyone; I don’t know who to trust. 

The people here are too frightened to smile,
Their lives have been full of fear for so long.
But today, a girl whispered “thank you” to me.
I’ll remember that when I need to be strong. 

When I enlisted, it was all black and white to me. 
I wanted the ones who hurt my people to pay.
But I’ve killed so many men, I’ve lost my soul 
And the enemy keeps coming, more every day.

In the heat of battle, there’s no time for reflection. 
To stay alive, I think only of right here and now. 
But sometimes at night, I think of all I’ve done. 
In all this killing, I’ve killed myself somehow.

A street fight is won by the most ruthless fighter
And lost by the one who can’t take the pain anymore. 
So war crimes and atrocities are always inevitable.
It takes inhumanity, not compassion, to finish a war. 

Last week, the enemy killed three Christian girls
On a bright, sunny day, on their way to school.
They found their bodies in a field of wildflowers.
I don’t know how a man can become such a ghoul.

It’s nothing new – what the enemy’s trying to do,
hoping to make us so sick, it’ll shatter our will.
They underestimate us, like our old enemies did 
But for every horror I see, there’s less of me left to kill.

Sometimes at night, faces of the dead fill my mind.
Men who, like me, were once little boys full of fun,
When I have time to wonder what changed them,
and what became of the children who played in the sun.

For God and Country, I slaughter the enemy,
The way any faithful, obedient soldier should
But like me, the enemy thinks he’s right.
Like me, he believes that his cause is good.

To write a letter to a soldier serving overseas, please visit this site –

www.lettersfromhomeprogram.org/

“My dear wife. You get something twisted out of your insides by all this blood, filth and noise. I want to stay changeless for you. I want to come back to you the man I was before. How do we get to those other shores? To those blue hills?” (The Thin Red Line)

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