1945 by Raphael Salise

I lied

when I said

“I’ll be home soon,

don’t you worry about me”

I just didn’t want

to hear you

burst into tears

through the receiver

for it would also rain

down my cheeks

under the shadow of my helmet.


I lied

when I said

“Victory is ours”

after two nights and awake-up

the only thing that was ours

were the dead bodies

of my comrades

bullet holes looked like


a mixture of green and red

on the concrete sky.


I lied

when I said

“Prepare a feast,

decorate the streets,

the hero

is coming home”

when all I did was cower

behind a fort of soil

and barbed wires


barely breathing

white knuckles

tightly gripping the Garand

as they circled the area

like vultures

searching for prey

in a desert full of bones.


I lied

to keep you from worrying

about my safety

because dear,

no one is safe

in the battlefield.


I lied

as I took my oath

each word piercing my throat

like swallowing needles

as they pinned my uniform,

the entire collection

glistening in the

morning light

the clanging noise as I march

like church bells

ringing a haunting sound

echoing through the hallway

the weight of the carats

is nothing

compared to the weight

of my guilt.


I lied

when I told you

that I was a hero

when I came home

but son,

the real heroes

are six feet

under the stone.



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