I lie in long grass
With the spotter behind me.
He smells. Probably I do too.
“Don’t be a judger,” my wife would say.
We are watching the doorway
Of a pretty, bamboo cottage
Eight hundred yards dead ahead.
I’ve adjusted the rifle on its tiny tripod for the
And a fitful breeze from the east.
The light couldn’t be better.
Mosquitoes and firebugs bore in
There’s nothing to do but take it.
It’s 100 degrees. I hydrate
From a backpack and pee
Into the special pants they give us.
The worst thing is the time.
We know that going in, but it is very difficult.
Eight hours, then ten, then twelve,
Fourteen. At about eighteen
He appears in the doorway
I know him by his medals.
Why are they so stupid to wear their medals?
The spotter with his sixty power scope
Says, “target confirmed, take him.”
I squeeze the trigger as though I were touching my wife.
The rifle whispers, “phut.”
There is an agonizing, eternal, two-second pause
And then the man’s arms fly out sideways
And he hurls back into the cottage darkness.
“Confirmed,” says the spotter
And we shimmy a mile back
To the river. I have R and R in Bangkok
Where the most beautiful girls in the world
Cost fifty dollars a week,
Introduce you shyly to their family,
And cry when you leave them.
By then the nightmares have stopped
And I’m ready to do it
One more time.