“Blood on His Boots,” Zeke Sanchez

Michael Diehl, Splash


“Blood on His Boots” 


You’ll never finish now but you can start,
You can point down the road,
And know you will be on it

Regardless of the wind gathering strength.
See those Midwest clouds turning turbulent,
You hiding beneath a concrete overpass
While the strong-shouldered storm swallows RV’s
And cars and trucks and farmhouses
Deep among the cornfields and the wheat.

The smaller brothers left behind,
A mother working, and father too,
Boys loose in a small town
Eating breakfast at a neighbor’s
Running up a bill at Emma’s Grocery,
While you, intent on making it to Iowa
In two days, think you are forgetting them,
But carry it with you.
Feathers have grown on your back,
As you fly to escape,
But your feet are clay
The motorcycle a mirage.

The smaller brothers, and older brother, too
Are all braver—this is not lying—
It is true—on baseball diamonds,
Or behind Starkey’s Pool Hall. Read
The Purple Heart awards—no it’s true—
They are the breed apart. He hugs his imagination,
Is afraid to get blood on his boots, did
A few things, too, but always tried to leave
It all behind.  They stayed.

Zeke Sanchez


Review by Dave Mehler

This poem is the sequel to the first poem I commented on, so if you haven’t I recommend you go read that one first. Here we see Zeke or his persona or speaker lamenting and in mourning over his experience, not only as the returning vet from Viet Nam and all he experienced there but the perception as something other (braver?) after having come back, by family members who didn’t go or share in the contamination and shame that was no doubt the experience of the war. The speaker says no, and insists they were braver, on baseball diamonds, Or behind Starkey’s Pool Hall. As for Zeke, he returns home and only wishes he could leave it all behind: they stayed. And were better for it–They are the breed apart, he insists, not him. He balks at the suggestion he might be brave, because what he most feels is shame, not pride in all that he was caught up in. At least this is how I read it.


Scroll to Top