Underground

Poetry as PTSD therapy continued.

In 1965, three Marines
barely out of high school
invaded a World War II Japanese bunker
hidden in an ancient Okinawa cave

Japs placed their machine guns here
marks on the rock revealed
where napalm scorched
that killing turned American soldiers
into hometown heroes

At the back, that rocky nest twisted
vertical to a horizontal gap
like acrobats, we three twisted like worms
to go deeper underground
crawling through mud
sandwiched between thick slabs of primordial rock    
It was tight in that damp, narrow space
beneath the surface.
we three cockroaches crawled
through that volcanic vice
that an earthly shudder might seal

Okinawa was home
to deadly snakes lurking in dark places
one by one, our WWII issue military flashlights flickered
died
the darkness absolute
there was no dripping water
no echoes
just the sound of ragged breathing surrounded by silence
with no way to discover the way out

Panic was not an option

We three shoved with our feet
and clawed with our hands
there was not enough room to lift our heads
between the slabs of hoary rock
while plowing through muck
surrounded by the starless midnight

A spot of light appeared
signaling an end to our journey
witnessed by the stars and a full moon
we tumbling out of a notch
into the gully outside Camp Hanson,
swearing never to return
to that natural dungeon

We were still young
when we shipped out to
set boots in Vietnam a month later

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