“The Marching Flesh” by Jesse Sheppard

A poem about mass punishment


I hold back my liquor and aggression,

when he says, “the fault of one falls on us”

Marines swallow logic and expression,

the Corps becomes calm and delirious


Inside my head, flower petals bloom gray,

when darkness falls, colors slowly mutate

Alarms sound like death, clocks tick-tock away,

sensation removed, vegetative state


More sleep could help suppress some misery,
food vanishes, a never-ending lent

Two boots lie like capsized ships lost at sea,
those weathered, unwilling soles hide torment

When eyelids fall, our breaths slowly decrease,

the marching flesh, the uniformed zombies

Jesse Sheppard spent five years in the United States Marine Corps.  During that time, he repaired, and later served as a quality assurance inspector for, avionics equipment for rotary wing aircraft.  Jesse earned the rank Sergeant and now studies accounting and economics with a minor in labor studies at University of California, Santa Barbara.