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Well, my infant son
such bubbling sounds are softly fit
to the comfort of the cradle nest
but I see you are ill-prepared
for adult reality in our society
during this modestly-named Scienific Age.
I’ll tell you a story of once-upon-a-time,
a future time when you will face
both life and your contemporaries
with precise social grace.
First, learn the voice of command;
Ready on the right.
Ready on the left.
Ready on the firing line.
Also, the standards of a serviceman:
Military Code of Justice;
Discipline and Teamwork on the Skirmish Line.
Put aside those crayon books
with shy giraffes and rolly bears
for forty-two minutes of
Piecing Together Information
from documents, paper scraps, love letters,
and notes found on still bodies and other
Sources of Military Information.
And then, oboy, oboy,
we get to the meat of the matter in
FS 8-36, Care and Treatment of Face and Jaw Wounds.
Pay particular attention to
TF 7-1263 The Bayonet Fighter;
twenty-one minutes screened in a stifling tent
will teach you to use the bayonet,
in-drilled and assimilated with TF 30-1943
all twenty-seven minutes of graphic action:
a) Proper Questioning and Clever Interrogation,
b) Reasons for Taking Prisoners in Combat.
But don’t tell mother, son—
it’s a once-upon-a-time story for men, except
The Effects of Atomic Radiation or
Reconstitution and Use of Standard Package Dried Plasma.
You’ll look back at that red wagon
thinking it vastly amusing to have preferred it to
Cross Country Ambulance, ¾ Ton, 4x4.
Now, learn the game
or risk the dishonor of social failure
when your playmates assemble for the sport of
Combat in Deep Snow and Extreme Cold.
Too much of the same thing?
You wouldn’t want to be kept off the team
while other boys chucked blocks and trains for
Infantry Hasty Field Fortifications,
or miss out on slit trench and prone shelter
because cuddled in a cradle nest
you ignored your future
Spider Hole and Foxhole Preparation?
Getting sleepy, little boo?
Plump in your new body
triangularly bandaged (cf. FS 8-101)
you may drift off to sleep.
The poignant story of
Mine Fields: Laying, Marking and Recording
the Six-Row Mind Belt
will give you steel sheep to count
not one of which must be overlooked—
material for an endless dream.
I’ll repeat it again, boy,
while you and I work out a future—
you’ll learn to wipe your nose
and wear civilization on your back with
Field Jacket, M-43.
No, don’t tell mother, lad—
this once-upon-a-time story is
a game mommies never play
except, of course,
Poet’s note: My basic training was in Alaska during the winter of 1950 and the training manual titles are mostly authentic. The final line reference to nerve gas originated in a command post exercise in Alaska when I was assigned to do a press release from Territorial Governor Ernest Gruening, warning the populace of impending attacks from the Soviet Union, written to caution people without triggering a panic, about a weapon of mass destruction that was silent, undetectable and lethal, and at the time unknown to the civilian population. A war game exercise, the release was never issued.