Work & Orders
Terry Savoie

Work & Orders

            after reading of another WWI landmine explosion

The private from a dirt farm in Ohio
plants a landmine as he pretends he is
planting another in a gunny sack of spuds,
planting the mines near a stream in an open
field in France near a stream bordered by scrub
pines in one of the first weeks of the big war to
end all wars for which his good family cheered
him on even though he was just a no-account boy
who knew nothing whatsoever about fighting or
this country or war, a war that's now buried
deep in his & that country's history books.
He was just another foot soldier who was

following his sergeant's orders. Less than one
week later, the private was also planted in haste,
in a shallow, sodden grave by comrades, buried
in hastily as the troops were forced to retreat
from their position, they, too, were simply
following orders from HQ. Two days after,
a pack of emaciated & marauding mongrels
from the bombed-out village nearby dug
out, fought over & all but devoured the
private's body parts until their hungers
were nearly satisfied, strewing his bones
about. Seemingly, it seems, the curs were

only following the orders rumbling deep in
the pits of their empty bellies. Now, in our
enlightened, new century, three children
play outdoors in good, spring-like weather,
playing near an unplowed field & not far
from that same stream running nearby
the town's refuse dump, apparently not
following their parents' orders now so
they’ll never again return home. Nearly
ninety years finishes the private's work duty.
He's released now to join Death's parade with
three children trailing hand-in-hand behind him.

Terry Savoie

has contributed to more than four hundred literary journals over the past four decades, including APR, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Sonora Review, Commonweal, American Journal of Poetry, and The Iowa Review.