A Losing Battle

War has been on my mind lately, mostly due to reading Tim O’Brien’s, “If I Die in A Combat Zone”, which is a great read if you want to get inside the head of a soldier who spent time in the trenches of Vietnam. This poem was inspired by another author, the late Chris Kyle, and his book, “American Sniper”. Chris didn’t get overly political in the write, but he did make it clear that politicians, the press, and lawyers, are these days too involved in combat (from behind their desks) and the ROEs (Rules Of Engagement) they force upon our soldiers make it difficult to fight an enemy who abides by no rules at all.

A Losing Battle


Fighting an enemy disguised

Every woman, child, or dead body

A possible danger


Trained to fight and kill

In the name of freedom and justice

Beneath the watchful eye of the press


Attorneys dissecting each shot

To determine its righteous necessity

Were you or your comrades truly threatened?


Rules of engagement

Designed to line pockets

While filling flag-draped coffins


And the soldier… finger on the trigger

Niggling doubt in his mind

… Just before he dies


Copyright © 2013 C Mashburn


Sharing this on dVerse Poets Pub’s Open Link Night ~ Week #86


  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    Oh, wow . . . very powerful write. It took my breath away!

  2. Wow! You’ve left me speechless and saddened by the abject realities of war, what too many are living, have lived. Regardless of how we feel about the war these soldiers are fighting, they deserve so much more, so much better than what we offer or extend. These are words that need to be read, because it matters.

  3. Tony said

    If the people who started wars and profit from them actually had to go and fight, there’d soon be many fewer wars.

  4. ugh…when i was working with the sheriff’s department that was one guys said if he ever pulled his gun it was to shoot to kill…at least that limited litigation to if it was justified…as if a court that was not there will ever really know….

  5. Mary said

    And now I hear that the 28-year-old North Korean dictator is mad at the US and thinking about cancelling the ‘armistice’ that has lasted since 1953.

  6. Grace said

    It’s hard to fight under the watchful eyes of the press, there will always be doubts and suspicion ~ I pity the soldiers at the forefront, they take much of the casualties of war ~

  7. ayala said

    Powerful and sad. Good write, Charles.

  8. Truedessa said

    This has some strong sentiments which creates a powerful write with words that hit..Well done!

  9. Pat Hatt said

    Rough ending indeed. Can’t hesitate I suppose as the other guy won’t, rough in every way, such war on display.

  10. Very powerful indeed! Our military deserve the very best for the sacrifices they make for our freedom … (Freedom isn’t free)! Thank you for sharing!

  11. Stan Ski said

    Just another means to an end…

  12. Oh my, but that is powerful stuff Charles.

  13. aka_andrea said

    it is amazing to me how much can be said in so few words. this is very powerful.

  14. Susan said

    Powerful articulation of the seriousness with which the soldier touches the trigger–and yes, behind the desk, the judges never risk their lives. This war zone has emerged metaphorically in USA public school education with parents and teachers serious about children and learning but not writing the rules.

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