Small Pain in My Chest by Michael Mack was read over to 5000 people, at the funeral of the first Black Hawk helicopter pilot, who was shot down in Iraq. It is also read at the Vietnam Veterans meetings. The poem shows the pain suffered by the soldiers in a war. It also portrays the human spirits in times of war and crisis.
War has lasting and deep effects on those who serve in the war. This is the theme of the poem in which the poet has clearly brought out the physical, mental and psychological agony that the soldiers go through in the battlefield.
Physical Agony: Soldiers have to endure appalling conditions on the battlefield. They have to remain without food and water for so many days. Surrounded by the enemy forces, their lives are always at risk. In the process, they get fatigued, wounded but they have no one to help them to. Therefore, they remain on the battlefield undergoing immense physical agony from the physical injuries that they had suffered.
Emotional Agony: The soldiers kill each other, though they may not want to. Circumstances force them to end someone’s life. This act brings them sorrow. Surrounded by dead bodies, amidst the pain and fear, they are haunted by seclusion.
The soldiers often feel like reaching out to their families and to share their grief with them. Often they think about their families as to how would they react when they would see their terrible conditions. The soldier in the poem feels ashamed that what his mother and wife would think of him to know that he gave up just because of a ‘small pain in the chest.’
Psychological Agony: The soldiers on the battlefield suffer psychological agony, usually referred to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorders. This disorder is caused by the trauma of war. The horrible sight of the battlefield haunts them and their memories for a long time. They often recall and re-experience the distressing events of the battlefield. War stirs their emotion, affect their body and impact their state...