No Applicable Regulations
Scorpions find whatever shade they can, wait out the day,
sheltered from heat like a hammer
in the manner of cold-blooded things.
We find them under sandbags. We forget,
sometimes, our gloves. Stick fingers in unguarded,
welcome the sting, the fall, the one chance
we ever get to shirk duties and take ease
amongst the other wounds, shrapnel-ruined flesh
that, if proved to be at the hands of our enemy,
may earn them the right to wear Purple Hearts
alongside their scars. Now, snow melts on
upside down boots—the insides sodden,
though there aren't, and have never been, spiders here
known to take refuge in boots. Habits from the old life,
like Uncle Joe breaking filters off cigarettes
or betting a dollar on picking up tough spares.
Nothing is the same. Those ways give way.
Joe was in the ground two months before
the Chaplain pulled you from your gunner seat
to let you know that, since the man hadn't raised
you—was, after all, already dead and buried—
there being no applicable regulations,
you could not expect to be sent home over it.
Provoked, they posture up, all armor plating,
pugilistic claws held to faces. Ill-intent
dressed in slick black chitin,
they look like what they mean.
Not like us, making the associated gestures, hollow forms,
saying "my condolences" by means of offering condolence,
praying only for our own.