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Tribal Outcast

i joined the marine corps
at the age of eighteen
my hair went down to my shoulders
jean overalls with three inch
platform dancing shoes
a silver ankh cross on my chest
riding the bus from cleveland
to parris island south carolina
i didn't have a clue

those days friends called me
a space cadet
the grayhound bus reached the island

then all hell broke
when the sergeant with the smoky the bear
hat tilted over his beetle brow saw me
his bulldog jaws went to work
calling me withering expletives
cussing phonetically arranged
to slice the gray-matter to ribbons

those were the days of the old corps
we were herded like cattle
stripped down to the skivvies
heads shaved as with a lawn mower
and made to stand
thumbs to the front even while in the rack
with older recruits patrolling
butting us with flashlights
in the solar plexus
if we broke the rule

when they weren't looking
cried for the loss of my hair
but reached up to my bald dome
and found a few strands the butcher barber
the length a foot or more
wrapped them round my ear

at lights out
twanging them like an instrument
the lonely
lost boy at night

3.3 10/10
© Brian Peter Hodgkinson 
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