In a months-old issue of some magazine
sent to us from back home,
to rouse our spirits and remind us again
why the campaign or operation or counterinsurgency was necessary,
I see a photograph of a beautiful girl in profile.
She is nineteen, maybe,
with burning, sapphire eyes,
fair, wind-tousled hair,
and a scarlet bandana
drawn across her face,
like some last-stand desperado.
She shares frame and trades breath
with the dispassionate muzzle of a bowing,
mounted police horse,
in full riot gear.
the pale horse of war,
my mane sheared,
fitted with blinders, bridle, and bit,
bowing to beauty
with the sage instincts of a dumb, broken beast.
Upon my back,
the unseen oppressor presides,
with black revolver, baton, and riding crop,
black mirror-shine boots, and black riot-squad helmet
concealing a lipless, bone-white, serrated sneer.
His bloodless hands, in black gloves,
clutch far beyond the bounds of his given quarter.
His companion, following with him,
has delicate, marionette hands,
and wears a tailored suit, a silk necktie,
and a charismatic, bleach-white smile.