What do you say
to those who turn their backs
on those broken in battle,
or broken at the sight of battle,
who were left to clean up the collateral damage,
or who were collateral damage,
were pierced by IED’s,
or shaped charges,
who had inadequate armor,
or no armor at all,
who were left in moldy rooms,
were dropped on the street,
who don’t want to go back again, and still again,
who see clearly with their eyes closed,
who cannot find shelter in a maelstrom of thoughts,
who did what was asked
and wish they hadn’t,
who asked for leaders and found only followers,
who asked why and were told “just because,”
who never came back, or
who were left here.

Previously appeared in SNReview, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2007 and in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press (2008).


There are three ducks on the pond,
two female, one male,
and none says anything
that is remotely profound.
Half a world away, a man
carefully parks a truck
at the edge of a crowded
Baghdad market and
walks quickly away.
Three ducks swim side by side
by side around the pond,
every now and again
plunging their heads into the water.
In Baghdad, safe
within the Green Zone,
the General says life
is slowly improving.
The truck by the market
does not explode, it
has run out of gasoline.
Stop and ask yourself
which of these three ducks
is the chaperone?

Chaperone appeared in The Right to Depart: New and Selected Poems, Plain View Press (2008). Copies of the book are available for $10 at madpoetliveshere@gmail.com.