Coffin Nails
by Milton Ehrlich

As a rifleman,
I got hooked on cigarettes
that came with our food in a war
that wasn’t supposed to be a war.

Hurry up, and wait, a military mantra,
that left us with boring stretches
of time, —nothing to do, but smoke
and smoke.

With every barrage of heavy artillery,
I almost wet my pants,
more terrified of friendly fire
than anything the enemy could deliver.

After witnessing blood-soaked bodies
returning from the front line,
I smoked one cigarette after another
waiting for the one bullet
that had my name on it.

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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