While Shepherds

Up for anything
and out of it, mostly.
The Dirty Dozen?
Double it.

Occupy veterans,
some AWOL marines,
Swampy’s best mate’s
mate, turned informer.

On tour
and staying there,
like secrets
no campfire soothed.

The searchlights
we were used to.
Not desert rats
for nothing.

It was the noise,
white, whole nights of it,
a Christmas crooners CD
turned up to eleven.

Town was more ghost
than quiet.
That’s what a curfew
will do for you.

The Helmand boys
came good, to be fair.
That night vision gear
worked a miracle.

Respect is earned, not due.
And she earned it.
No fence would have stopped us
from coming.

Anthony Wilson

This poem was originally published in The North 

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