He realized relatively young in life that he would die.
That knowledge comes to each of us at a different time.
For him it was the way he had to watch death from a front-row seat.
The war grew him up fast, swapped the kid clean out of him in an instant.
Each puff of smoke, be it a bullet, bomb, or cannon shot,
meant the hocus-pocus dark magic of another life snuffed out.
The true growing pain that, learning life must end through a death watch,
the viewing of a movie that appears to end,
but you can’t just get up and leave the theater,
because they make you sit through the reels again and again,
force you to memorize the show, not because there will be a test on the material later.
No, you won’t have to spit what you’ve learned back to them,
the blow by blow of what the whole show was about.
No, it’s that the knowledge must be made to stay with you,
stick in your brain like a tattoo inking over all your gray cells,
the graffiti on the freeway wall that the maintenance crew can’t seem to reach,
and if they ever do, they realize it’s the scrawled message
that will remain while everything else crumbles around it.
He realized very young in life that he would die,
and in that instantly finitized period of time, he realized he was meant
to make more of that short time here for each of those friends he lost
who could not make the most of the brief moment they’d had here.