Cannonballs

I wake up in a war zone
in which cannonballs fly
outside my bedroom;
the rumble and groan of round shots
echo in and out of my brain.
I listen for a moment and roll over,
hardly disturbed by
the thunderous noise. All I want
to do is to surrender to slumber and
go back to sleep.

But the barrage continues
from all sides, ammunition flying
outside me as I rise
reluctantly. I listen
expressionless as I weave my way
through the bullets lying in piles
on the floor, remnants
of previous battles
to which I was similarly resigned.

I have endured this battle
time after time, different
wars and different soldiers,
yet the heavy drumfire
awaits me outside remains
insurmountable. The shower
of artillery outside the walls
matches the beat of my heart —
faster and faster with dread and fear,
hastening with every
further breath I take.

When I reach the door
I pause; I can feel the heat
of the gunfire outside
on the metal doorknob.
I breathe.
When I manage to
open the door wearily
I am immediately surrounded
by bayonets wielded by
the infantrymen who stand on guard
between me and the bathroom.
They stare blankly at me
but refuse to put their weapons down.
I look for an opening,
an escape route. There is none.
I can’t make it.
The gunfire is too heavy.

Though nothing strikes me,
I feel the faint gust the bullets create
as they whip past my head
in the hallway.
The infantrymen still stare at me;
we lock eyes. Their gaze
follows me as I lift
my foot one at a time
and walk as if I am dragging
a ball and chain behind me,
shackled to that which
prevents me from making it
to the shelter of the bathroom.

Only there is there
silence again; only there
is the temporary respite
against the war inside my head.

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