Each night is different. Each night the same.
Sometimes I pull the trigger. Sometimes I don’t.
When I pull the trigger, he often just stands there,
gesturing, as if saying Aren’t you ashamed?
When I don’t, he douses himself
in gasoline, drowns himself in fire.
A dog barks in the night’s illuminated green landscape,
and the platoon sergeant orders me to shoot it.
Some nights I twitch and jerk in my sleep.
My lover has learned to face away.
She closes her eyes when I fuck her. I imagine
she’s far away, and we don’t use the word love.
When she snores, I hear the helicopters
coming in low over the date palms.
I remember the men bound on their knees, shivering
in the animal stall, long before dawn.
I remember whispering into their ears, saying
Howlwin? Howlwin?—meaning—Mortars? Mortars?
Howl wind, motherfucker? Howl wind?
The milk cow stared with its huge brown eyes.
The milk cow wanted to know
how I could do this to another human being.
I checked the haystack in the corner
for a weapons cache. I checked the sewage sump.
I tell no one, but sometimes late at night
I uncover rifles and bullets within me.
Other nights I drive through Baghdad.
Or is it Firebaugh. Bakersfield. Kettleman City.
Some nights I’m up in the hatch, shooting
a controlled pair into someone’s radiator.
Some nights I hear a woman screaming.
Other nights I shoot the crashing car.
When the boy brings us a platter of fruit,
I mistake cantaloupe for a human skull.
Sometimes the gunman fires into the house.
Sometimes the gunman fires at me.
Every night it’s different.
Every night the same.
Some nights I pull the trigger.
Some nights I burn him alive.