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Wednesday, February 19, 2014


by Rick Gray

Chicken Street, Kabul. Source: Streets of Afghanistan Project

Not yet fourteen, he swings on donated crutches like an old jazz hand
Brushing the bad news lightly to his orphaned platoon.  

Cute won’t work anymore, the foreigners are all leaving the war.                        
Our new mission is grabbing anything they abandon.

Slip thick blankets off their emptied beds, still warm with home dreams.
Seize their Pop-Tarts, some good glue, and those spittoons. I have ideas.

And the general’s long strategy desk we saw on that looted TV, he commands,
Smash it into firewood with your remaining little hands.

We’ll need the heat.  And the meat, he squints, lifting his right crutch and aiming
Its chicken-bloodied tip at a shadow taking cover underground.

The others understand.
Any rat alive, or close enough. 

Rick Gray has work currently appearing in Salamander and has an essay forthcoming in the book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. He served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and teaches in Kabul, Afghanistan.