Once, I Shot a Man Right Between the Eyes

Following orders
on the battlefield,
it was kill or be killed
my sergeant said,
no different than
when he taught me
to thrust and parry
with fixed bayonet.
The young soldier
wore thick glasses
and looked a lot like
one of my classmates.
Sergeant claimed
Gooks don’t belong
to the human race.
Don’t ever feel sorry
for killing an enemy.

But I can’t forgive myself.
I look down at my finger
ready to squeeze the trigger
and hear my mother asking
What has become of you?

Milton P. Ehrlich Ph.D. is an 88-year-old psychologist and a veteran of the Korean War. He has published poems in The Antigonish Review, London Grip, Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant Literary Magazine, Wisconsin Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Christian Science Monitor, and the New York
Times.