The Messenger of Death

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Flip, flip the numbers on the odometer turn over
One less mile till I have to deliver the message from Dover
Thump, thump goes the mother’s fists against my chest
Not enough miles to think of a justification for her son’s eternal rest
The odometer of life flips on with each setting sun
I find myself writing another mother about the death of another son
Though separated by miles of ocean and waves that pound the shore
I feel her fists pound my chest because of the inadequate message that I bore
Though months, years, decades on my odometer turn over
Like the phantom pain of a lost appendage, the thump, thump is forever
In Iraq a boy from my small community can no longer take any breaths
The pounding thump, thump tells me this of all these Iraq and Viet Nam War deaths
Waste, waste, waste

-Paul Appell, a Vietnam War veteran

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