“Army Memorial Service: Tikrit” by Gordon Kippola

Gordon Kippola


Our ghost today is Private First Class Jones;
his rank and name are called for roll. Air Force
boys are flying home his bits and bones;
so Jones won’t answer back, praise Mars.

The Sergeant Major calls his name out twice,
it’s Private First Class Aaron Jones this time.
His Humvee bumped a hidden boom device,
which made his ass go AWOL. Now, we’re primed

to hear his three-fold summoning; the name, 
in full, his parents told the county clerk:
Private First Class Aaron Francis Jones. Same
silence … then rifle volleys. The bugler, here for work,

plays Taps, that old-school twenty-four note song.
The lyrics promise, God is nigh. They’re wrong.

from Rattle #70, Winter 2020
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist


Gordon Kippola: “In 2004, while commanding the First Infantry Division Band in Iraq, I attended several memorial services for Soldiers who had been killed a day or two prior. Sitting in a room with a Soldier’s friends while they experienced this ritual farewell is something I’ll never forget.” (web)

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