[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
2000 lbs.
Ashur Square, Mosul

It begins simply with a fist, white knuckled
and tight, glossy with sweat. With two eyes
in a rearview mirror watching for a convoy.
The radio a soundtrack that adrenaline has
pushed into silence, replacing it with a heartbeat,
his thumb trembling over the button.

***

A flight of gold, that’s what Sefwan thinks... )
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Phantom Noise

There is this ringing hum this
bullet-borne language ringing
shell-fall and static this late-night
ringing of threadwork and carpet ringing
hiss and steam this wing-beat
of rotors and tanks broken
bodies ringing in steel humming these
voices of dust these years ringing
rifles in Babylon rifles in Sumer
ringing these children their gravestones
and candy their limbs gone missing their
static-borne television their ringing
this eardrum this rifled symphonic this
ringing of midnight in gunpowder and oil this
brake pad gone useless this muzzle-flash singing this
threading of bullets in muscle and bone this ringing
hum this ringing hum this
ringing

by Brian Turner
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Ashbah

The ghosts of American soldiers
wander the streets of Balad by night,
unsure of their way home, exhausted,
the desert wind blowing trash
down the narrow alleys as a voice
sounds from the minaret, a soulfull call
reminding them how alone they are,
how lost. And the Iraqi dead,
they watch in silence from rooftops
as date palms line the shore in silhouette,
leaning toward Mecca when the dawn wind blows.

by Brian Turner
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Hwy 1

It begins as the Highway of Death.
It begins with an untold number of ghosts
searching the road at night
for the way home, to Najaf, Kirkuk,
Mosul, and Kanni al Saad. It begins here
with a shuffling of feet on the long road north.

This is the spice road of old, the caravan trail
of camel dust and heat, where Egyptian limes
and sultani lemons swayed in crates
strapped down by leather, where merchants
traded privet flowers and musk, aloes,
honeycombs, and silk brought from the Orient.

And the convoy pushes on, past Marsh Arabs
and the Euphrates wheel, past wild camels
and waving children who marvel at the painted guns,
past the ruins of Babylon and Sumer,
through the land of Gilgamesh where the minarets
sound the muezzin’s prayer, resonant and deep.

Cranes roost atop the power lines
in huge bowl-shaped nests of sticks and twigs,
and when a sergeant shoots one from the highway
it pauses, as if amazed that death has found it
here, at 7:00 A.M. on such a beautiful morning,
before pitching over the side and falling
in a slow unraveling of feathers and wings.

by Brian Turner
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Sadiq

It is a condition of wisdom in the archer to be patient
because when the arrow leaves the bow, it returns no more.
—SA’DI


It should make you shake and sweat,
nightmare you, strand you in the desert
of irrevocable desolation, the consequences
seared into the vein, no matter what adrenaline
feeds the muscle its courage, no matter
what god shines down on you, no matter
what crackling pain and anger
you carry in your fists, my friend,
it should break your heart to kill.

by Brian Turner
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Eulogy

It happens on a Monday, at 11:20 A.M.,
as tower guards eat sandwiches
and seagulls drift by on the Tigris River.
Prisoners tilt their heads to the west
though burlap sacks and duct tape blind them.
The sound reverberates down concertina coils
the way piano wire thrums when given slack.
And it happens like this, on a blue day of sun,
when Private Miller pulls the trigger
to take brass and fire into his mouth:
the sound lifts the birds up off the water,
a mongoose pauses under the orange trees,
and nothing can stop it now, no matter what
blur of motion surrounds him, no matter what voices
crackle over the radio in static confusion,
because if only for this moment the earth is stilled,
and Private Miller has found what low hush there is
down in the eucalyptus shade, there by the river.


Ashbah

The ghosts of American soldiers
wander the streets of Balad by night,
unsure of their way home, exhausted,
the desert wind blowing trash
down the narrow alleys as a voice
sounds from the minaret, a soulfull call
reminding them how alone they are,
how lost. And the Iraqi dead,
they watch in silence from rooftops
as date palms line the shore in silhouette,
leaning toward Mecca when the dawn wind blows.


Najaf 1820

Camel caravans transport the dead
from Persia and beyond, their bodies dried
and wrapped in carpets, their dying wishes
to be buried near Ali,
where the first camel
dragged Ali's body across the desert
tied to the fate of its exhaustion.
Najaf is where the dead naturally go,
where the gates of Paradise open before them
in unbanded light, the blood washed clean
from their bodies.
It is November,
the clouds made of gunpowder and rain,
the earth pregnant with the dead;
cemetary mounds stretching row by row
with room enough yet for what the years
will bring: the gravediggers need only dig,
shovel by shovel.


~by Brian Turner
[identity profile] jhaelan.livejournal.com
Brian Turner served seven years in the U.S. Army, including deployment to Bosnia-Herzegovina with the 10th Mountain Division, and a year spent as an infantry team leader with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division in Iraq.

I have posted this not with intention of sparking discussion on the morality or (un)justness of the war, but to provide a glimpse at the reality of it

Hwy 1 by Brian Turner )

Later this year, a friend of mine serving in the British Army returns for his second tour

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