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Spring 2007 Edition
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Author: Tom (WordWulf) SternerHowe
Location: Louisville, Colorado

Tom {WordWulf} SternerHowe has been extensively published in independent literary magazines and on the Internet. This includes Howling Dog Press/Omega, Skyline Literary Review and Flashquake. He is winner of the Marija Cerjak Award for Avant-Garde/Experimental Writing 2001, 2002, 2003 & 2005. His novel, Madman Chronicles: The Warrior, is available at his website: http://pages.prodigy.net/sterner-howe or www.PublishAmerica.com. Download music from the novel at: Truefire. His second novel, Momma's Rain: American Camp: Frail Monsters/Wounded Souls, has been released in e-publish format and on CD with music by Gatto Publishing, www.gattopublishing.com.

When This Is Over

His name was Joshua
born in nineteen-eighty-five
named after his uncle
who was killed in Viet Nam
He liked girls but was shy
Her name was Mary
the one he wrote to
She answered faithfully
letters that filled him with hope
made him look forward to the day
when this is over

Jimmy was a cocky boy
ever ready to take a dare
celebrated his twenty-second birthday
over there last year in 2006
dated one of the natives
dared to experiment with her religion
knocked the edge off his cockiness
entertained dreams of taking her home
sent pictures to his mom
who couldn't wait to meet her
when this is over

Thomas was a serious young man
From the time he was twelve
no one referred to him as a boy
He had his check sent home
to his mother and six siblings
He meant to earn his stripes
single-handedly pull his Family
out of the slums, buy them a house
Proud of his poor boy career choice
he planned to be a soldier's soldier, even
when this is over

Edward cried every night
caught a lot of flak at first
until he proved himself in combat
His tears, after all, were everyone's tears
He wasn't ashamed of them
of missing the Family and life he left behind
all he could do is weep
Brave in the face of the enemy
he covered his comrades' backs
laughed and said I'll stop crying
when this is over

Jack liked to march
A track star in high school
a year, a lifetime ago
he welcomed the stiff sweat
on his clothes, salt in his eyes
the runner's burn, third wind
No one could keep up with him
At nineteen, he was first in his unit to kill
face to face, hand to hand
He stopped running after that, said I'll run
when this is over

George Ann was a tough girl
seven brothers and comfortable
holding her own in a man's world
twenty-two and the brightest eyes
She wrote letters for those who couldn't
arranged friends for those who didn't have them
that they could receive letters
the occasional package from home
Always doing for others, she had a man of her own
wrote to him, I got something for you
when this is over

At thirty-two, Cliff was the old man
His wife and three Children
sent him pictures and handmade cards
cookies he shared with the youngsters
he marched with and slept next to
A career man, he was proud
of the recruits, his fellow soldiers
He cried too but no one knew
wore a double locket with four pictures
around his neck, said I'll take it off
when this is over

William was twenty years old
read everything he could get his hands on
He aspired to be a writer
joined up to further his education
to get some real living under his belt
stuff to put in novels to stop wars
He promised his mother in weekly letters
he'd be careful and not to worry
Everything will be okay
I got leave soon; I'll be coming home
when this is over

Johnny liked to fight
On his eighteenth birthday
he joined up to avoid going to jail
He could dismantle and reassemble
his weapon with his eyes closed
just like in the movies
He liked to smoke cigarettes
and walk around with his shirt off
Killing didn't bother him
Maybe I'll go home and stop killing, he said
when this is over

Conrad was his father's son
proud to follow his steps as a foot soldier
The men in his Family
had fought in all the country's wars
distinguished themselves and survived
His picture was foremost on the mantle
arm around his new bride
her loving eyes full of the soldier
Everyone had seen photographs
of the son he'd finally get to see
when this is over

I have to stop writing them
They're beautiful and, in many ways, the same
How we prize them, our American youth
in the baby steps of their adult lives
They fill us with love and hope
these promises kept of generation
What courage they display
as they fly away and become soldiers
to people our combat forces
fight for principles conceived
centuries before they were born
and manipulated in the light of a new day
a storm of oil, violence, and money

Did I say they were, in many ways, the same
They are, indeed, brothers and sisters in death
voices still and hands at rest
asleep in the dawn of their lives
living letters in the hands of Family
answered quickly and before they knew
the awful thing they've come to know
In this third year, another thousand slain
Tell me of the lovers' hearts
fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters
Children, they ain't comin' home
when this is over

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