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Prisoners

by
 Usually at the helipad
I see them stumble-dance
across the hot asphalt
with crokersacks over their heads,
moving toward the interrogation huts,
thin-framed as box kites
of sticks & black silk
anticipating a hard wind
that'll tug & snatch them
out into space.
I think some must be laughing under their dust-colored hoods, knowing rockets are aimed at Chu Lai—that the water's evaporating & soon the nail will make contact with metal.
How can anyone anywhere love these half-broken figures bent under the sky's brightness? The weight they carry is the soil we tread night & day.
Who can cry for them? I've heard the old ones are the hardest to break.
An arm twist, a combat boot against the skull, a .
45 jabbed into the mouth, nothing works.
When they start talking with ancestors faint as camphor smoke in pagodas, you know you'll have to kill them to get an answer.
Sunlight throws scythes against the afternoon.
Everything's a heat mirage; a river tugs at their slow feet.
I stand alone & amazed, with a pill-happy door gunner signaling for me to board the Cobra.
I remember how one day I almost bowed to such figures walking toward me, under a corporal's ironclad stare.
I can't say why.
From a half-mile away trees huddle together, & the prisoners look like marionettes hooked to strings of light.

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