charlie in somalia

i.

herding home the heartbeat pattern

of aircraft, all that long distance between sea

and shore, shore and sand, sand

and city

never a footfall on dangerous ground,

never the blood soaked through a

white-knuckled fist, never the acrid

after-shock of all the unwieldy

might, coming home to rest in

broken places and unstirred for

evening, when the sun dropped quick

out of an enemy sky.

ii.

they said at the docks,

the food coming from around the world,

the men with guns were waiting,

and he thought that in the end,

no war moves beyond waiting,

it's all waiting, and they brought

the bodies back wrapped in careful

attention, life loving death as always,

since beyond memory.

iii.

they do not navigate by vision,

these great metal beasts, only

by sound and invisible understanding,

the sea silent beneath them,

the way home marked by a million

signposts, all hallucinatory.

he would stay up late,

and the green-screen

radar would burn strange

tattoos across his

dreaming.

iv.

home was far from the sea.

v.

he would wait up nights sometimes

and when they asked, he'd say he was

waiting for someone to come home,

although he never explained

who he meant