Let us go like Marines to that distant June
where they chambered their well oiled Springfield guns
and punched lead holes in German souls.
Squeeze, squeeze those fat cathedral kings
stuff them back into dark glasses of Matrona champagne
and eat their battle sausage with crackers and cheese.
Let us plunge our decisive wrists deep
in Cezanne’s muddy banks near the river Marne
look close, fragments of tilled bone return each year.
Into its shattered square mile of blasted trees
and stand waist high in its blood stained pits
with earth worms that creep.
Let us answer the call where thousands died
by exploding bones of their own kind
gently touch the tempered paintbrush of the devil.
Chew, chew pink poppy snuff in scraggy lines of loss
among the Star of David and silent white cross
that still stands in dancing wheat.
Let us go like Devil Dogs and feel the glow of the torch
that burned away the nights in fields of golden grain
where the wind took its last calm breath.
Where young men dreamed of a lover’s silken head
and watched the zeppelin drift over the dead
of Belleau Wood.
About the Author: Billy Malanga is a first generation college graduate, Marine veteran, and the grandson of Italian immigrants. His poetry reveals his small victories and struggles in redefining masculinity in an effort to better understand the beauty and brutality of the world. His poetry appears in: Adelaide Literary Magazine’s (2017) Award Anthology; The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature; Journal of Formal Poetry; Wraparound South Literary Journal; Cold Creek Review’s (2017) best of the net. You can find more of his work on his website.