five more casualties reported on CNN 
boys slaughtered in wars they don’t believe in 
i look across the lunch table at my friends,  
laughing carelessly as they plan their weekends 

nineteen, twenty, twenty-one,  
loving hands that never held a gun 
raising first beers to toast new years,  
not fallen brothers and grieving mothers  

they march in bands, not foreign lands 
lost the home game, but the home still stands 
their trumpets play no requiems 
throwing footballs, not hand grenades 
where no one dies from a fumbled play 
where men fall down, but rise again 

my friends breathe the blessing of another minute’s air 
for boyhood and brotherhood, i send up a prayer: 

such beautiful eyes should not yet close for eternity  
such vibrant souls cannot yet go to the final gates  
such laughing mouths should not scream in last anguish 
reaper, i beseech you to wait 

such gentle hands should cradle lovers, babes, grandchildren  
such untamed hair should fade from brown to white  
such passionate hearts should beat a hundred years 
reaper, their youth is their right 

this boy’s body should record a lifetime of memories 
until wrinkles draw maps across every inch of his skin 
like a traveler’s diary of the places he’s been  
until he’s seen enough worlds to fill his tired heart 
and he reclines gratefully into the earth’s green embrace 
and drifts away to the reward of God’s welcoming face 

may he leave a legacy, not a void 
may he die an elder, not a boy