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War Story #160:  The Books I Brought to Read While Flying Home from Iraq

Leaving Iraq for good,
we lined our ruck sacks by the chopper pad,
awaited the Chinooks. 

In mine, atop the uniforms and extra boots
I tucked two books  
for the transatlantic trip:
Digges’ Vesper Sparrows,
Behn’s Paper Bird.

I needed them.

Gulf Air flights only aired two flicks:
The Sands of Iwo Jima
and Jarhead.
We weren’t even Marines.

So when the Chinooks arrived
and hovered above the pad,
the rucks tipped and tore open.

I watched my books
flap and catch and rise
on the rotor wash,
then explode in twin turbine back blast—

flushed doves wheeling
before their white feathers
burst on the wind.


War Story #119:  Kings

It’s good to be kings.

We enter a dining hall.
Ugandan guards check our I.D.s.
Their English is perfect.

They have degrees,
fathers with connections.
In Uganda, this is punk work.
Here, it’s crazy-money.

Bangladeshis serve pork chops,
mop our spills, heave trash.

More rice, sir?

They dream periodic tables,
wipe Formica white.

In their lands these men are sons
of privilege.  Kings.

Here, issued hairnet crowns,
their scepters metal ladles,
bomb detection wands.  


Paul David Adkins grew up in South Florida and lives in New York, a rare species of reverse snowbird.