There are fewer and fewer old sailors,
old soldiers, old pilots willing to tell
their exaggerated stories for entertainment,
for education of the young,
for old times sake, for a last hurrah,
for the sake of remembering
the sad tales, the descriptions of tragedies,
of comrades lost and saved,
the yarns spun to make us smile,
or reduce us to tears as the storytellers' watery eyes
stare through us, past us to long gone days
that are never really gone.
Out come the shoeboxes held together with string,
the medals, coins, shell-casings,
browning photographs of smiling friends,
occasionally the nub of a scar from a near-miss
exposed by an upturned shirt sleeve.
Come the last breath,
and the framed pictures on mantlepieces,
military men in immaculate uniform dress,
reminding loved ones of loved ones
and the truth that there are less and less......