Funeral March

Your shadow is a funeral march
on the glistening surface
of rain-kissed streets

Your body is a funeral march
each step the solemn drum-beat
of a fallen warrior

Your heart is a funeral march
your chest is clothed in black and
emotions are your frozen blood

Your smile is a funeral march
bearing the pain of a lost comrade
and the fear of having no home

Yes, your fleeting spirit
on this dark eve, in this rain
is a funeral march.

All good things must come to an end. The Republic of Korea requires all able-bodied men to complete twenty months of military service, and most men are conscripted around the age of twenty. They can delay, but normally they just take two years off college. One of my friends is leaving the University for two years for military service, and while many Koreans are aware of the military service “tradition”, Americans are not. Watching his American friends, who did not expect this, mourn his departure has been sad. Last spring also,  I wrote a poem about another friend going back to Korea for his military service. The set of feelings and experiences which these young guys go through during that time takes hold of and changes them. So I always wonder what kind of person they will be when they return. 


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