Soliders & Cigarettes

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In documentaries
I've seen
There are boys
Going to war
Smoking cigarettes in the "ducks"
As they row into battle
My first thought is always
"They're only kids,
Why are they smoking?
They'll kill themselves."
But then I stop
And I think
And I realize
They're going to die anyways

They were boys
Enlisted or drafted
One in the same by the end of the war
All barely trained
All young
Some soldiers even younger then
Than I am now

16, 17, 18
Year old boys
Sailing into battle
The night black,
The only noise their stifled breaths
And the smooth sound of the oars
Slicing through the waves

The only light
The faint flicker of the cigarettes
They smoke
To calm their nerves
One soldier, older than the others, almost 21
Offers a a quivering solider
One of his last cigarettes
He may not make it through this next battle
Might as well smoke with a friend
Before it all ends
They light their cigarettes
Using the flame flickering
Off a fellow solider's cigar
No one dares light a real flame
They can't risk the shore
Spotting them
So they lean in
Cigarette lit by cigar
Hands shaking with nerves
Breaths wheezing out puffs of smoke
The boys smoke their nerves away
They don't care how the smoke
Will damage their lungs
20, 30, 40
Years down the road
Most of them won't make it past
This very night
Few of the boys will live to see the morrow

Tonight the boys smoke as frightened soldiers
Those who will live till the morrow
Can worry about the cigarettes then
Tonight they simply row and smoke
Surrounded by fellow soldiers
Just trying to smoke the fears of battle away

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