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Sunday, March 11, 2007


by Paul Brooke

On the grounds of Saddam's
     largest and most
     impressive palace,
The soldiers divide into teams,
     one softball, one bat,
     three gloves.
Everyone swings easily, no
     homeruns, just liners
     or grounders.
Somewhere a roadside bomb
     explodes. Beyond,
     a sniper waits.
The game drags on, all tied up.
     No one wants to win.
     Inside the palace,
Marble fades, coated
     with plaster dust, desks
     overturned, piss in the fountain.
The men rankle when a shot
     rings out and when one soldier
     bare hands the softball
Near the wall. Still tied.
     Night drops in the 12th.
     "We'll finish it tomorrow."

Paul Brooke lives in Ames, Iowa, where he counts the days until his two younger brothers return from Iraq. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals including The North America Review, Rocky Mountain Review, and Isotrope.