5-8 My great uncle

Lieutenant Paul Carrington Venable KIA 7-18-18


WWI: you fought in the Battle of Soissons, France,

allies vs. Germans. July 18–22, 1918.


I see the terrors of mucky trenches—barbed-wire fences—

sniper crosshairs—German Maschinengewehrs on sledge mounts

blasting 500 rounds a minute—shells exploding mud and limbs

in shocking arcs—bayonet charges through salvos of bullets—

pineapple and stick grenades blasting shrapnel—


which one was yours?

107,000 allied casualties / 168,000 German casualties


All I know is 99 years later

you were killed the 18th of July…

not which hour not how not even why—

my great uncle.


Lieutenant Venable:

I study your black and white snapshot

dressed in Khaki wool uniform,

wearing your Tan Campaign Hat,

postmarked June 1918.


Why do I miss someone

in a photograph

I never knew?