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.


And, I

realize

that

I

am

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.