Vox Populi

Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry

Peter Blair: Captain Adam on Mars

 

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

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