[lit-ideas] Frameworks

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2006 15:32:42 -0700







They leaped out of the shadows,

Their hands back preparing to throw,

I thought "grenades" and fired

Frantically but one succeeded 

And still firing I flung myself

Down behind our ruined Vee

To await the explosion


Which never came; peeping 

Up I saw the rock.  "A rock?"

We are at war, and they throw rocks?

My sergeant walked out inspecting 

The dead, shaking his head 

As he did so.  "Stupid bastards!"

"I thought they had grenades,"


I stammered as he poked

About with the toe of his boot.

"Don't see any."  He stopped

And picked up an AK47.

"Just this."  He tried to pull the slide,

"But it doesn't work."  "Damn," I said.

"I didn't need to fire."


"Belay that," he said,

Slinging the AK toward me.

"You don't and you'll get us killed.

They probably set the IED

That blew our Vee.

Save your tears for when

They blow me all to hell."


I gulped and looked back down

The street.  "Uh, Sarge.  Shouldn't

We be heading back?"  "Yeah," he said

Following my gaze.   So we walked, and

My rifle was readier than my thoughts.

I searched the windows and roof tops not

Knowing whether I'd shoot the next thing leaping.




"What of the AK?  What of the IED?"

"I know," the Sarge said.  "It's bullshit.

But that's what they do back there

At HQ - some bleeding heart lieutenant

Who's never walked the streets

Thinks it all sounds bogus  - a load

Of crap, but I saw it all go down


Don't worry."  I nodded and worried another patch

Through my M16 before setting it aside.

The complaint had come from the village.

I hadn't seen them watching.  I shook

My head.  Where had they been?  Not

There and they hadn't seen what we saw.

I pawed through my gear


Finding some ammo, loading another

Magazine and then looked up at the doorway

And the night beyond.  Corporal Reed

Saw me and smiled.  "Think they'll

Come looking to get even?" he laughed.

I blushed and said, "you leave that open?"

He laughed again and swung it shut.


"You know," he said, standing by my bunk,

"They set the IED that blew your Vee."

"Or saw it done," I added.  "Yeah," he said.

So some old men come looking for 

Those guys they knew weren't armed

And won't believe what went down.

"No more do I," I sighed.  "No more do I."




Later in a Palo Alto hot tub

An angry columnist vented his fury

To his hand-held recorder:

"The unmitigated gall,

The Geneva violations, 

The crimes against humanity

By all those so-called Marines


Who slaughter the unarmed

And innocent.  How many martyrs

Did they make?  How many new recruits

With their vile behavior?" he snorted

Into the recorder then hit the mute.

Leaning back he took another

Sip of Johnny Walker Black.


Then checked his watch and calculated

The time remaining and the word.  

"Hey hon," he yelled

"Put on the Shostokovich.

I've got at least five hundred

Words to go and my mood

Still needs refinement. 




"Very well," the lieutenant said.  "Your Sergeant

Has covered for you nicely, but if I see

You here again I won't be stopped.  Private,

Do I make myself quite clear?"  I gulped

"Yes sir."  "Get out of my sight," he yelled.

"You make me sick."  "Yes sir, I said relieved.  

Thank you sir."  "What?" he puzzled after me as I ran.


The next day we drove, listening

For the next explosion.

I checked the windows and roofs.

A child darted out from a doorway

Causing my adrenalin to peak.

Further along a dog chased a cat, and

Toward the end a hawk flying overhead dived.





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