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The Drill Sergeant

Leslie A. Averett


It was late one night

when I heard the Drill Sergeant.

Slamming the doors to our barracks

and ripping us out of our warm bunks.

This drill was all too familiar.

Cussing with slurs our names as the privates wake,

we knew to jump to attention as fast as we could.

Running as our feet touched the floor,

the fear of the higher rank shivered our bones.

The whole place reeked of repetitive chaos.

We glanced at each other, afraid of why,

and I saw the most frightening thing of all,

in my peer’s terrified eyes.

At first, we could not understand what we had done wrong.

We had obeyed strict orders all night,

so why were we cleaning at 0200 hours?

But as we ran down the steps of truth,

At the end of the stairs, there it lay,

all torn up.

I got to it first and with one broken arm,

began to pick up the Sorry game, the scattered pieces.


But our little legs could not out run the Drill Sergeant,

not this time.

As I saw the combat boots my butt went numb.

And we wouldn’t wear shorts all summer long.

We wore our Purple Hearts, not on our chest,

but under our fatigues, on our buttocks, and legs.

On the stair it had landed 2200 hours.

The soldiers off to their bunks, the game innocently forgotten.

And then way after curfew he retired,

carrying the smallest recruit in one hand,

and what was his gun in the other:

two fingers to start, full jiggers, empty glasses…

Drill Sergeant tripped and with all of his might

He rose, drenched with his ammunition and animosity.

And so you might blame him for a time,

Still, was it the Drill Sergeant’s fault, or mine?