I am a public service employee.

That means that for a small fee

I march with my white-feathered army

To remove what remains of the enemy.

I sweep the cracked bones, the blood and the pus

I clear the battleground of human detritus.

Friend of the farmer, friend of the land

I free the fields of foul contraband.

First day on the job: I suffer a fall

A hand had emerged from the stinking offal.

The hand had a body, covered in blood,

That dragged me down into the fetid flood.

"Forgive me," he whispered with his failing breath

He trembled, I trembled: between us was death.

I stared, mute and surprised.

I could see my reflection in his bloodshot eyes.

I cried out, then fired –

He cried out, then died,


None of us know what we do.

Oh, what shall we do?

I have a job to do.

One down; forty thousand to go.

Not my fault – they must leave for the crops to grow.

Like someone religious I part the Red Sea.

For my country I sweep. My staff grows heavy.

Won't you commend my bravery?

How do dead eyes keep staring in me?

I looked up for relief, but the sun blinds me.

I am a public works employee.

I am also a coward.