Sunday, April 11, 2010

Poem A Day Challenge--Day 11

April 11: “For today's prompt, take the phrase "The Last (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make that the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Some examples: "The Last Train," "The Last Kiss," "The Last Time I'll Give Directions to a Complete Stranger," "The Last Dance," etc.”

Seemingly on the other end of the spectrum of "until" is "the last". While "until" speaks to what is yet to come, "the last" suggests an end of some particular thing and an unknown future, whether good or bad. But what will be the last or, more importantly, who?

The Last Centurion
By Bill Kirk

At the end of days, real or imagined,
Who will be the last
To walk through the celestial door
After turning out the lights?

Would we not expect it to be
The last remaining Centurion
Or someone else of similar ilk,
Whose gift to us is to
Preserve and protect our way of life?

Indeed, someone must be last.
And, anyway, isn’t that the lot of the Centurion,
Volunteer or not?

Whether sailor, or flyer or gunny or grunt,
Medic or teacher, SWAT cop or Rent-a-Cop,
There are many such Centurions among us.
Both former and present,
They have done their due diligence.

They are the ones
Who gave their last full measure
Or were spared to tell the tale
Of how they made it through
Their last day in battle,
Whether fought in jungle or desert or city street;
Or while protecting children in school
As footsteps and the “pop-pop-pops”
Approached from down the hall.

Their recounted memories flash by them and us
Like so many jerky newsreel images.
And still we would ask them
To answer one final call to duty.

And without shirking,
They would willingly step forward on our behalf—
To make sure all others have made it out.
To be the last soldier,
The last hero,
The last Centurion.

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