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Nov-19-2010 17:15printcomments

So I was a Coffin

They said you are a spear. So I was a spear...

Salem-News.com
This picture is Gerardo Mena' favorite and has special sentimental value because the Marine on the far left was Gerardo's great friend Killed in Action; his death opened a "floodgate" for Gerardo's poetry.

(SAINT LOUIS, Mo.) - Forward by Editor: War is Hell, and the only people who can adequately describe the experience are the survivors. The amazing depth that this poem from a Marine Combat Veteran conveys, is only matched by similar works from others who were meant to survive; people like our writer Dr. Phil Leveque, who survived combat operation against the Nazi's in WWII. Young men at war do not choose sides, they serve their nations and those who do it well, carry on a long tradition.

So I was a Coffin

They said you are a spear. So I was a spear.

I walked around Iraq upright and tall, but the wind blew and I began to lean.
I leaned into a man, who leaned into a child, who leaned into a city. I walked back to them and neatly presented a city of bodies packaged in rows.
They said no. You are a bad spear.

They said you are a flag. So I was a flag.

I climbed to the highest building, in the city that had no bodies, and I smiled
and waved as hard as I could. I waved too hard and I caught fire and I burned
down the city, but it had no bodies. They said no. You are a bad flag.

They said you are a bandage. So I was a bandage.

I jumped on Kyle's chest and wrapped my lace arms together around his torso and
pressed my head to his ribcage and listened to his heartbeat. Then I was full, so I let go and wrung myself out.

And I jumped on Kyle's chest and wrapped my lace arms together around his torso
and pressed my head to his ribcage and listened to his heartbeat. Then I was full, so I let go and wrung myself out.

And I jumped on Kyle's chest and wrapped my lace arms together around his torso
and pressed my head to his ribcage but there was no heartbeat. They said no. You
are a bad bandage.

They said you are a coffin. So I was.

I found a man. They said he died bravely, or he will. I encompassed him
in my finished wood, and I shut my lid around us. As they lowered us
into the ground he made no sound because he had no eyes
and could not cry. As I buried us in dirt we held our breaths together
and they said, yes. You are a good coffin.

_____________________________________

This poem won first prize in the 2010 War Poetry Contest sponsored by Winning Writers. Author Gerardo Mena received a $2,000 award. Copyright is reserved to the author. Mr. Mena has kindly made available to us a YouTube video he produced for this poem:

About Gerardo Mena

My name is Gerardo Mena. I am 28 years old and I'm a decorated Iraqi Freedom Veteran. I was in Special Operations with the Reconnaissance Marines for six years and I was awarded a Navy Achievement Medal with a V for valor for multiple acts of heroism while under enemy fire. When I completed my military enlistment I returned home to Missouri and began taking courses to complete my Secondary Education degree with an emphasis in Language Arts and I began to take poetry classes and found that they helped me deal with many of the events that I witnessed while overseas and in a war zone. It was not until I met Brian Turner, the acclaimed author of Here, Bullet and the newly published Phantom Noise, that I had the confidence to know that my words mattered.

I still have a year and a half left until I complete my degree but I've begun some student teaching and was just recently hired to be a wrestling coach at the local high school. I know that teaching is my calling now and that preparing high school students to lead productive lives will be my life's work. I feel incredibly blessed to also have the love and support of my wife and two-year-old son, and the many loyal friends that I have made on my life's journey so far.

As for the picture I've attached, I'm the guy on the right. This picture is my favorite and has special sentimental value because the guy on the far left was a great friend that was Killed in Action on January 23rd, 2007 while we were in Iraq together, and his death sort of opened a "floodgate" for my poetry. The picture is of us getting ready to provide security in Mongolia right before President Bush lands for his Asia visit in 2005.

For more information on Gerardo "Tony" Mena and his music, visit www.facebook.com/tonymena.




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Josh Akers November 20, 2010 11:40 am (Pacific time)

I hope he can go on to be a successful teacher... I feel like even though I'm a stranger I can see that man being the best of the teachers in any setting. I'm glad he is coaching a team already.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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