Photographer: Dario Torres

There is a moment immediately after an action

When silence is deaf to itself:

There is only the smell of discharged weapons,

And smoke. Fractured air reverberating

From concussion; the hammering of fire.


Hands slowly disconnect their grasp

From stock and pistol grip.

Sometimes at the second of release

The shaking starts, butterfly wings

In the wind.


But within a minute, perhaps less, quiet rushes

Like a wave to engulf ears, cheeks, lips, the dirt

That is dressed with cartridge cases, belt-link and

– pray God not me – scarlet flowers that resolve

Into dressing pads.


Until like the release of a dam, from trickle to flood,

Come the screaming assault, a drenching in oily whimpering

Signaling men trapped in agony with no merciful release.


And so it goes even after the years have drawn tight

And the memories have been ingested.


One day a man meets a woman. They duel consensually

Drawing blood lightly with humour and intrigue.

But both are wary, carrying lessons from earlier actions


With dressing held ready to staunch the flow.

Copyright © 1994 – Jerry Beale

I wanted to describe how difficult it had been for me to allow anyone close to me after my experiences as a soldier. I felt dirty and damaged, and certain that anybody who looked into my soul would somehow be harmed.


4 thoughts on “Casuality

  1. Wendiful62 February 11, 2016 / 4:18 am

    Love this poem. It is brave and real, I read it over a couple of times to let the words sink in to my soul. War is about getting one’s hands dirty. There are few brave enough to fight let alone willing to do the unspeakable, bloody and heart-wrenching things required to keep us safe. I thank God for you and others like you. Much love to you and I hope writing helps give you peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jodine February 11, 2016 / 4:24 am

      Yes, Jerry has a wonderful way of writing very moving poetry. Jx


  2. Jodine February 8, 2016 / 1:59 pm

    My father is a NZ Vietnam War veteran… I think you have captured the aftermath of war in this poem. Thank you. Jx

    Liked by 1 person

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