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Personal effects:

watches, rings

No, not buttons or shoes,

                                   these belong to the government

Watches, rings -

       teeth and bones

                                 these are yours

buckles, buttons, shoes

                                these belong to the government.

teeth, bones, remains

These will have an escort

on the plane

to the place of interment and you -

        parents/spouses/children/siblings

            by law

            will have your travel paid and

            flag and flag case

            to keep

            and post interment care

A cap on costs

of course,

              but casket, honor guard

              are paid

buckles, buttons, shoes are ours

but teeth and bones

            watches, rings

                         These are yours.

 

[This is akin to a Walking Poem, in that it was written in the midst of what it is describing. The place was Washington, D.C.. The speaker was a member of the military organisation charged with the discovery, retrieval, identification, and re-burial of the remains of American military personnel wherever in the world they might be found. He was explaining to family members of lost service men and women gathered in a large hotel what our rights were, and what we could expect, should remains be found and found to be ours.]