MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XX No. 1
September / October 2007
20th Anniversary of FNL:
A Brief History of its Founding
Faculty Representation? How?
Newsletter Most Popular Among MIT Faculty
Transparency and Communication
A Call for Nominations to the
Newsletter Editorial Board
Hockfield to Write on "State of the Institute"
in Next Newsletter
Teaching this fall? You should know . . .
America's Infrastructure
Engineering Dilemma
Is it Time for a New Manhattan Project?
Update on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons
Experimental Project-Based Subjects:
A Hit With Students
Faculty Calendar
Student Systems – A Vision for the Future
MIT 1st in Engineering, 7th Overall
in Latest U.S. News Ranking
Combining Investment with Philanthropy: Faculty and the MIT Endowment
Proficiency in Customary Units
Who's Who in the MIT Administration
Campus Population in Representative Years: % Change and Absolute Numbers
Printable Version

MIT Poetry


Joe Haldeman

last night and afternoon I cleaned each round
with a gasoline-soaked rag, and inspected each round
before snapping it into the belt
so that when my loader is killed
the belt will run true
for as long as I am allowed to live

forgive me my sin

at a cyclic rate of fire
the bipod would dig into the sand
and restrict lateral movement,
so I took a sandbag
and invested a canteen of water
to make a firm base for the weapon
for as long as I am allowed to live

forgive me my sin

I hear the muted cough and clank of their tanks
and I hear the whip of the helicopter blades
from just below the near horizon
and with my loader I stare at the horizon
and wait, and keep touching the safety
pushing it uselessly forward so the weapon will fire
at the first man that I see

forgive me my sin

I will die here
and my loader will die here
before noon
we will be dead and crushed by the treads of tanks


forgive me my sin

but they are just men,
like me and my loader,
and it hurts me to glory in killing
them as it hurts me
to be afraid of dying.

Joe Haldeman teaches in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies and is best known for his award-winning science fiction novels. This poem appeared in 2007 a collection titled On Our Way to Battle: Poetry from the Trenches. This is his second appearance in the FNL.

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