The first time he looks through the barrel

Shivers quake his muscles

He can hardly see to pull

The trigger

He can hardly focus

He can hardly take the shot

That will end the life

Of another

He shuts his eyes

And pulls

And a crack

Shouts through the stillness

And there is a burst

Of red

A flash

Of death

And a human being


And falls to the ground

With a shriek

A cry for God


And the soldier

Can hardly bear

To see himself in the mirror 

And look himself in the eye

And he tosses

And turns

With nightmares

He tries to remember

How it all happened

Why he did it

But he can't seem to remember

What was worth a person's



The second time

He looks through the barrel

He has a painful flashback

To the first time

Shivers quake his muscles--

But he shrugs them off

And pulls the trigger quickly

And another man falls

A quick splash of blood

And then he's down

And the soldier knows

He's made a second kill

And it doesn't cut as deeply

As it did

The first time


And he doesn't try to look himself

In the eye

He brushes his teeth and shaves

And ignores the haunted look

In his eyes

And his nightmares are bad

But he doesn't complain anymore

He doesn't cry

Only wakes each morning


And he remembers home

And freedom

But no longer cares

If they are worth

A person's life 


And the twentieth time

The thirtieth time

The hundredth time

He no longer quakes

He focuses with a deadly calm

He doesn't look away

From the flash of blood

It no longer stands scarlet

But only a dull red

And he reloads

And shoots again

And doesn't think

About the life

Of the person

He just killed


And he doesn't even shave


He doesn't look at the mirror

Because the eyes he sees

Are haunted

And the hands he uses

To brush his teeth

Are stained

And he tries not to wonder

What could be worth

A person's life

And with every life he takes

Part of his own

Is stripped away

And vanishes

In a flash of scarlet

Of death

And when he looks again in the mirror

He knows

That there may not have been

A flash of scarlet

Or a shout of death

But he has toppled

He has shrieked


With every life

He took

And he knows

His life

Is worth





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