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spacer.gif   Tony Rodriguez Aiello
Posted by : cj on Friday, December 03, 2004 - 04:38 PM
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Poetry:  Click On The Author's Name M-16A1 Combat Assault Rifle

1.
I never fired a gun before
I entered the army, but as I aimed
my M-16, I knew I would kill
the Iraqi soldier. He danced
in a daze, bled from a head wound,
tried to surrender, clutched no AK-47
in his hand; he dodged
bullets in my sights & I held
my breath, my trigger:
closed my eyes, breathed in, held,
breathed out, held, opened my eyes
to meet his. There are days

never-changing: moments
stutter & stop, flash & back up
as they happen: days I played
baseball in Ed's backyard
lasted all summer. His granddad
nailed up plywood to keep
us from knocking boards out
the pine fence behind first base.
But plywood didn't stop homeruns
that dented the hood of my mother's
mustard-dust Delta 88, didn't stop
my father's belt nor hide my bruised back.

Fall, we played football weighed down
with shoulderpads & helmet.
One afternoon I called Dave, fucker,
again & again as he hammered
my back, ribs, & helmet until my nose
bled onto my white Cowboys jersey
& my ears rang. I could barely stand,
but never stopped saying fucker.

Sun still glares then as when
I knelt aiming: saying fucker:
waiting to ease back the trigger:
the Iraqi's life on fire
before my eyes & his.

The day before, my platoon
launched sandstormed missions.
I sat in my truck, tied a cloth
over my magazine dock
& ejection port to keep out grit.
Over the radio someone spoke
of T-62 tanks & incoming artillery.

In the wind, M-16 shotgunned
to brush dust that clogs the bolt,
returned winters when I played
guns with Tommy & Walter & we
threw ourselves into snow drifts to see
who could die best. Alone, I watched
rockets fly faster than fast clouds
shooting across a winter sky:
as when long ago covered in snow,
not so cold & wondering why.

2.
Because after removing
starlight scope eyes
that bring to view
a green world alight:
burning tanks & trucks
rocket-assisted rounds from 8in guns
25mm tracers like lasers:
star-thick sky blinks
into slow focus as your eyes
open to no desert no war
no it me you anything:
to silence: to sand.

At hand an M-16: even as I,
broken to components: its sights my eyes:
a seeing, seeking thing:
like a definition: but trick knowledge
because though we ran the land
& owned the whole hard night,
the desert was no home:
nights so dark & given to roaming:
waking lost: off the mark.

What changes & how much remains?
In late summer 1983, underneath
the streetlight I talked with Ed
about Empire Strikes Back
& Gina LaHockey's 7th grade breasts.
In boot camp, we sweated
late-August-Oklahoma nights
as we slept with our rifles
while our fathers, our drill sergeants,
taught us how to kill.

What would you do? In a strange time?
A fast land? We cleaned black surfaces.
With air hoses we blew out trigger assemblies.
Our rifles shined at night.
We learned to respect them.
With brass brushes & oil,
we rubbed rust from days
stored away. Always sweating
through a choice or chore--regardless,
a decision to act or stop acting anymore:
but with a rifle in your hand:
aiming hard: breathing slow.

 
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