James Lineberger

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Honor Guard

there was a time
after the tet offensive when i was doing
three or four funerals
a week for extra pay in the national guard unit
that i was assigned to
but this one grunt they brought back that july
the heat was so terrible
that when we started to carry the casket
out of the house
i don't know what happened
but the sun must have got to me
and i passed out i guess
which i don’t remember at all but what
i do recall is waking up
on the kitchen floor and the dead marine’s mama
had my head
cradled on her lap and she was dipping
a washrag into a pan of water to cool my forehead
and i guess she didn’t know i was in the infantry
and just doing it for the money
because she gave me this mama smile
and whispered there now baby semper fi semper fi


James Lineberger's poetry has appeared in Boulevard; The Cortland Review; The Main Street Rag; UCity Review; Natural Bridge; Pembroke Magazine; Quarter After Eight; Free State Review; Sheila-Na-Gig; B O D Y; and New Ohio Review.