The Drill Instructor

The Drill Instructor
with thanks to Ted Kooser, for the phrase “shoes carved from obsidian” from a lecture at the Library of Congress

An Air Force Officer
told me once,
before I enlisted,
that the worst thing
in his Basic Training
was hearing the metallic
click of the Sergeant’s
tap-augmented shoes
before the lights flashed on.

So, when I got to Parris Island,
I was not prepared
for the sound of a natural-
shod horse on the worn concrete
floor of the barracks.

The Drill Instructor,
shoes carved from obsidian,
(unscarred, unsmirched
even after a day of shining
in the sun the sand the rain)
approached like gravity
at nine point eight meters
per second squared.

faster faster
obsidian shoes
drum concrete echoes
and suddenly an index
finger appeared
one centimeter
from my eyeball,
smudged the
plastic lens
of the birth-

–07 May 2005