George Lober

What They Do Not Do

On the first day of class
they do not enter smelling
of red meat and dust.

They do not enter in full battle rattle,
Kevlar vest, wrap-arounds,
helmets on, weapons at high-ready.

They do not sweep the room,
taking tactical positions near their seats,
or pull from book bags

the dismembered limbs
and beating hearts of comrades.
They do not sit stone still

at attention, eyes on point,
listening to the shatter of IEDs,
screams of dying,

while waiting for me to speak.
Rather, they enter in khakis and polos,
casual slacks and V-necks,

take their seats randomly,
pulling out laptops and tablets
with wallpapers of quiet lakes,

green hills, desolate peaks,
pictures of fiancées, spouses,
children honored with friends’ names.

They enter into light chatter,
down range locked down,
sipping from Red Bulls,

snacking from sandwich bags
of almonds, pieces of chicken,
until I step forward

and their clear eyes say,
We’re ready. We’re here. Tell us, Sir,
something you think is important.

Red Wheelbarrow, 2016

George Lober

Books by George Lober