three oddities on D-Day beach

It was his respected reputation
that earned Ernie Pyle an invitation
to be in the second wave on D-Day beach
his columns, humanistic and poetic scripts
had brought World War II to the doorsteps
in England, Europe, and a hesitant U.S.
his first observations met his expectations
wicked machinery of war left twisted
in the sea and abandoned on the sand
the beach littered with weapons and gear
shed by men bent on out running bullets
must go low, light, and quick to cover
despite duck and dodge many died on the sand
death’s garden, row on row of blanket-covered men
each blanket end, two vertical markers in combat leather
but reporter Pyle couldn’t reason 3 odd visions
entities without proper places in a post-battle scene
a banjo, a tennis racket, and a little dog lost
the reasons for those oddities we’ll never know
so a writer with conjecture must create scenarios
could it be, a young Pfc. from Tennessee
a five-string musician, aspiring to play the Opry
believed he’d survive the crossfire, entertain
his mates at the high-ground victory fire, but
the first bullet ripped the shoulder strap
the second Nazi shot broke his parents heart
Lt. Smith, captain of his college tennis team
knew it was luck in the racket, so fixed it
like a crucifix to his backpack, a shield
for his squad facing the fury of the devil
a mortar blast stole the pack, a sniper’s serve
too exact, Smitty’s life lost: game, set, match
a Yank, fresh from the farm, lonely in London
missing his dog, Shep, adopted a cokney pup
and on invasion day slipped it into the ship
then, his canine chap, into the landing craft
a debark in 10 ft of water, he not a swimmer
so only half of this friendship reached the beach
thus these logical causes for 3 oddities
a banjo, the tennis racket, an anxious dog
it, greeting wave after wave of men, each face
focused, determined, grim, looking only forward
the pup ready to jump into his loving arms
nuzzled his man scent, bark to his laughter
it still there at sunset, sitting
searching the Sea, watching, waiting
later, like a stone sentry on the sand
while the Moon weeps light into the Sea
the pup watches each wave roll in,
waiting   watching   waiting
By George Tanner