Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
Tribes Picked by U.S. to Fight Taliban, Get Tied Up in Own Feud;
‘If They Take Our Land, We’ll Kill Them All.’
Wall Street Journal
Hot dust swirls off the hill
like an ambush, tribes on each side
each ready to kill the other over a patch
of arid scrub. The American, Adam,
sits between two turbaned chieftains
the Ali Sher Kel’s and the Sepai
keeping a flimsy trust, unclear
as the patches of olive green, desert
gray, blended beneath his stripes.
He must speak to them in parables:
He who loves his fellow man loves
democracy. Captain Adam refuses
to give guns to either side
in this mountain landscape that’s like Mars
on a good day. “Democrazy,”
his lieutenants joke off duty on the base.
Captain Adam opens his shirt.
They touch the bullet-proof
vest thinking it’s an air-conditioner.
They finger the black steel ammo clips
lined up in pockets across his chest,
and point at his perfect white teeth.
What century is it on Mars?
Copyright 2016 Peter Blair