We’ve been to this movie before. Even before the previews of coming attractions
we’re already squirming, anxious in our seats. The screen does not even have
to light up and we feel the cracks in us in the cracks in the seat under us. We are screwed in place
so tightly we can’t move. The numbers on our punched tickets must match the little metal tags
on the backs of us, our seats. Indeed we’re melted into the seats of our pants and our pants
are just a second aching layer of skin. We’ve been to this movie before.
“No Boots on the Ground” becomes “They’re only advisors”.
“No Combat Role” becomes “Only to Defend Themselves”.
They had advisors in Vietnam, too. Mission creep. Creep. Creep. Creep.
Those missions will creep up on you. Won’t they?
First the bombing then the creeping then the boots.

We’ve been to this movie before. Will we ever go barefoot in the splendor in the wet grass again?
No, the boots are on and the boots are on the ground again and the main feature has finally started
and the bombs are dropping from the bomb bay doors and the cannons are firing and recoiling
and shells are landing and the drones and gunships circling rat-a-tat-tat
go the gatling machine guns, go the artillery, go the tanks boom, boom, boom
we’ve been to this movie so many times before. Boots on the Ground.
Every day is the longest day, every day is anchors away, we go, anchors away
and off we go into the wild blue yonder, at them boys give her the gun
we live in fame or go down in flame, bombs away, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo
The Day the World Stood Still, John Wayne and Patricia Neale.
We’ve been to this movie before.
We’ve been to this movie before.
Boots on the Ground.


James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.