Long, green vines, tangling
around trees, slithering
across the jungle floor
Men—soldiers, tip-toeing
Guns in hands, faces blackened
Creeping, prowling
through unfamiliar terrain—
The enemy's backyard

Cautious footsteps, and crackling,
Snapping of dry twigs
under a careless foot—of friend or foe?
The sharp inhale of humid air
down dry throats, shrill sound
The piercing call of an exotic bird
screeching overhead. Heartbeats.

Sharp twigs scraping ankles,
Leaves brush faces with razor edges
Rugged, uneven ground, riddled
with crevices and hidden roots
Smooth metallic weapons, heavy
to exhausted, straining muscles
Moist air, clothes sticking
to skin, hair plastered to foreheads
Sweat trickling down backs

It lingers in the air, a ripe
offensive odor, fused with dirt
and rain—The smell of heat,
of burning skin, of metal
colliding with nature
Leaves and decaying wood

Tastes like death, decaying
Earth beneath feet, humid air
thick in throats. Dry throats.
Wet air. The metal flavor of blood.
Dirt and sweat mingle in mouths—
salty, rich heat.
The taste of unpredictable