The men, most recently boys,
clamber into small boats.
Swells, towering above open tops,
fill craft with water and doubt.
Packed in cold, wet misery
they stand, shoulder-to-shoulder
struggle against a roiled ocean,
reality and the unknowns.
Floating boxes, filled with hopes,
cast away from mother ships.
Certain death now within arm's reach.
Curses, prayers and cries offered up.
A boat tips, they go into the water
nothing can be done
except to witness final battles,
as this one drives to sand – and hell.
Still untouched, yet already scarred.
Bullets scream overhead (and everywhere else),
their trajectories always mysterious.
The common plea: “Let this be done.”
Finally, all-stop…for the vessel.
The ramp, once a shield, falls in expectation.
The next order unneeded:
Forward! Forward! Forward!
Noise, noise everywhere – deafening beyond words.
Brothers float by, borne on reddened surf.
From above, “saws” rip the multitudes.
No rescue or sanctuary – the boat is gone.
Onward, half-swimming, half-crawling
through the wire, traps and humanity.
A singular thought: “To land” –
even if just for final rest.
Ordered chaos swirls and cloaks.
The way ahead: the only way.
Fighting with backs to the sea.
There is no return.
– Jeff Bliss