“Tires Underwater” by Elizabeth leader, pastel with mixed media
When I was sure the nurse was out
in the sick bed next to mine,
And 30 milligrams of Karachi diazepam couldn’t stop
the thudding propellers,
I rose quiet as a Seal and aimed for the
poppy fields of Helmand District located
just south of the analgesic section
I had scoped in the clinic medicine chest.
I almost got them right
Into my open mouth
Little white words I can’t spit out
When the nurse’s voice
Blazed through Afghan darkness
ten years of Texas truck stop waitress behind it
like a red warning flare that said
That’s why you’re here.
Rick Gray has a poem appearing in the winter issue of Salamander. He was a finalist for the Editor’s Award at MARGIE. His essay, “Total Darkness,” will appear in the forthcoming book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. When not in Afghanistan, he lives in Florida with his wife and twin daughters.
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I loved this poem — its battlefield imagery which makes the hospital thievery seem that much more pathetic, but also suggests the relation of war and addiction — a smart, brutal piece of writing that depicts our smallness in the face of such grim, ongoing conflicts.
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