Kandahar

unnamed staff sergeant sits on overturned

bucket digs absent through dusty pockets,

tiny bits of mountain-rock trapped beneath

fingernails and thousand fold paths of dirt

grained inside of fisted palm-

all spaces require moment of quiet, just

whirlwind proof and hard-ceramic glazed

beneath endless sun. mountains burst upward

of dreaming, no color except the sky and

that's the same everywhere.

shorn hair. determined delicate spread of ink

over right arm, pattern somehow tender and commonplace;

speaks in directives. back-home dreams crop up

sometimes in quiet nights, advancement and pay grades.

not important yet, but waiting. there is an end to everything.

watches the men come carry out pizza and

coke, laughing above mechanic whine-

quit smoking in basic.

wants one anyway.