Volume 21, Number 4

The Making of a Soldier

After school, my bedroom carpet is like a Lilliputian battlefield.
I general against the injection-molded: the P-51 Mustang squadron,
Sherman tanks, & armored half-tracks battalioned by bedposts,
and backpack infantry troops scattered among the dirty clothes.
Green army men sniper through the barricade of playing cards
at my rubber-band-ruler cannon. Elastic stretches past the nine-
inch mark—finger latched to wooden edge—before springing loose,
hurling the whip-lashed projectile headlong to cardboard bunker,
lassoing troops, plastic machine guns entwined with the rubber
violence. Momentum transfers to all the molded men, green
from helmet to feet, from arms to hands grappling grenades—
imaginary pins pulled, blood running thick, monochrome green.

—John C. Mannone