Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Enemy Fire

This feels somewhat apropos, given the fact that President Obama is considering sending yet more troops into Afghanistan. Please, Mr. President, show us you deserve that Nobel Peace Prize. Violence only begets violence...bring the troops home.



Enemy Fire

My life has been a life of the gun,
A life of flying lead and heavy steel,
A life lived on the hair-like line
Dividing life and death.
My parents have pictures of me as a boy
With a loaded pistol in my right hand,
A loaded bottle of milk in my left;
I was quick on the draw with both
And could aim like a pro every time
With a squirt or a bang and a gummy grin.
I got myself a license to kill
Long before a license to drive
(And still to this day I am better by far
With the first of these terrible twins).
I had little interest in clubs or sports
Unless they required ammunition,
And the only games I cared to play
Were games of total bloody war.
I drove to school with a shotgun at my side
More often than I did with a book,
The one worn dull by my studious hands,
The other pristine in a jacket of dust:
For all the things I needed to know
I learned as a student of Professor Steel,
And I was always the teacher’s pet,
The favored disciple every year,
The one with all the bright gold stars
And smiley faces next to my name;
“Kill ’em all, let God sort ’em out”
Was my quote in the high-school yearbook.
The Great Outdoors was only ever great
When it gave me a buck to mount on my wall
And a snapshot to show the kids I would have
With a tall tale to tell them once I had retired.
Some called me a killer deep in my genes,
An adrenaline junkie, a wannabe God,
A plague, a pariah, a terror, a scourge,
A demon of Hell—and a brother...
And I would smile and give a wink
With eyes that glinted like steel.

But here, so far away from home,
The shadows cast by dunes and dust
Upon an endless desert’s sands,
Beneath the beating hammer of the sun,
Will take the strangest shapes at times—
The shapes of does, of coons...of men.
I raise my gun and set my sights,
The scope revealing all that hides
Within those shifting shades of sand
Like soldiers watching from trenches.
I aim...but find no target there.
I fire...but only raise a puff of dust.
I fire...but only hear the echo fade.
I dream...but never sleep or seem to wake.
My life is a life of the gun,
A life lived in the crosshairs every day.
They tell me I am a bringer of death,
A killer down to my DNA,
A Storm against Evil, a Terrorist-scourge,
An Agent of God—and a Soldier
Of Steel...though now it feels like rusted tin
With stiffened limbs and joints in need of oil.
But sometimes I peer into the scope
And stare into eyes that shimmer and swim,
The crosshairs fixed on a pupil grown large
And fathomless like an abyss, like a dream...
And I forget that heavy, lifeless feel
Of the trigger dividing life and death
As I forget the side that I am on
When a leaden tear strikes the searing sand.

Image credit: soldiersmediacenter, originally from flickr via Wikimedia Commons, under a Creative Commons License.