I am a former paratrooper, Gulf War veteran, and a Daily Press Poet Laureate. My first poetry collection, The Human Touch, focused on relationships that we form with family and communities while my second collection, Half a Man, focused on war. (Both are available at http://www.billglose.com/purchase.htm.) My third collection, Personal Geography is a mixture of both. More information at www.BillGlose.com.
On the Road to Basra
Fleshy nubs wriggle on the boy's elbows,
forearms lost in stony plains of Al-Amarah
by a mine meant for Revolutionary Guards
then forgotten like the way he used
to twirl hair at the back of his neck
when he was three. Behind him,
Saddam smiles on a sandstone wall, chest
festooned with medals. He doesn’t realize
his face is pockmarked with bullet holes
and splashes of paint black as dried blood.
In the dusty courtyard, sandals kick a soccer ball.
One child breaks free from the scrum, dribbles
toward the crippled goalkeeper. The ball
sails past flailing stubs then bounces
back from the wall. Clapping elbows
together, the boy yells a taunt. Half-arms
dance above his head and he sets his jaw
as if to say, Is that all you’ve got?
Long Live the Young Boys
of drumming thunder
and asphyxia, war
makes time for laughter.
Picture, if you will,
a shirtless gaggle of boys
on their backs,
warm breeze spraying sand,
stirring that youthful need
to cause trouble. Flak jackets
come off as “hurry up” shifts
to “wait.” Machine guns
and rifles become teepees
in a field of brown
and fingers cock like pistols,
recalling days when killing
was bloodless and fun.
Pearson clutches his chest,
down a dune.
Sergeant Foust brays
like a donkey and Rambali
falls over, howling.
Pearson’s form is still,
arms splayed, gapped teeth
goading lips into a smile
while laughter rains down
as if from Heaven.
©2016 Bill Glose
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF