Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

by Thomas D.J. Maynard


Behind these wet cardboard walls

We are safe for just a moment,

But cardboard and bullets don’t

Get along so well most times.


My brother’s face is tired

And drawn beyond his thirteen years.

Burns stain his once smooth cheeks,

But I am not much better.


“How many are there?” he pants.

My sweaty hands fumble now

On the scope’s slick dial.

Soldiers caress their guns and grin,


Their macabre guffaws like sick jokes

where our blood is the punchline.

Like taunts in a child’s war game,

daring us to come and play.


The question weighs in the air

How many before the gate?

My eyes water, choked by soot.

They haven’t glimpsed us, not yet.


But I see them clearly now.

The scope clatters to the dirt,

and I clutch my brother close.

“Make a wish,” I whisper.


Thirteen, and one for good luck.


Thomas D.J. Maynard has a hearty love for coffee, beer, poutine, and a good science fiction story. By day, he repairs and installs computers in Northern CT school systems, and by night, he repairs and installs computers at his home in Mansfield, Connecticut.


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