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On the Flight to Alamosa, Colorado

ISSUE:  Fall 2008

At 10,000 feet, the lights of Denver
fade as pilots check their gauges,
the Beechcraft’s engines thrumming my ears
as elevation and cabin pressure block out
passengers in conversation behind me,
the world outside a distorted globe
with my reflection in it, moonless and culpable.

I’m no longer flying to Alamosa. Colorado
no longer exists. Not now. Once again
I’m in the belly of a C-130
with Fiorillo and Hathaway and Jax
silent within their own thoughts
beside me, cold rifles in our hands,
the Highway of Death guiding us
to the airstrip at Anaconda, 210 bullets
sleeping on my chest.

We will haunt the streets of Balad
by midnight, kicking in doors
and raiding houses, separating the men
from the women and children, flex-cuffing
their wrists and sandbagging their heads,
searching block by block, house to house,
in sewage sumps, in animal stalls, sacks of flour,
year after year searching for all we have left behind—
the missing arms, the missing legs, the dead nerves
in Bosch’s hand, the blood from Miller’s head.


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