What I _____ in the War

Adam Wojack, Veteran

Adam Wojack, Veteran

Smell
Propane in kitchen over
Hot bread over propane
Donkey pulls cart of propane white, seeds road with stink bomb
Shit piss dishwater stream from compound gate
Skinny crooked river
Pool in center
Weapon points level behind armor
Toward smell:
Soldier fear

See
Power line hangs low
Over compound wall low
Over street
Runs to pole, tangle jangle lines and wires
Three bags full
Pounding stake mounted high
Turret high to push lines
Away shoot straight
Navigate
See garbage
Bomb there
In plastic bag, rice sack, oil can
And there
Time on target this house
Iraqi troops jump, run
Over wall
Scramble up, through house
Follow in, notebook GPS digital camera
Look

Hear
Auto fire warning shots
Redirect traffic
Squelch beep bop
Falcon Six Spader X-Ray
Need location, over
And why are you there?
Talk: la la la la la
Civilian shakes head, caught living life
Look at eyes, mouth
Jabber at terp
Who shakes head, grins, says
- He know nothing
Something?
Makushi
Nothing

Feel
Copper wires in hands
Terp guards switchbox
Twist and roll together, crimp with plastic nut
Drop and step away, breathe
Fear the current
Search for comfort
Plastic water bottle + hardwired space heater = hot morning shave
Hard rock Humvee door and soft floor
Butt cheeks, fists squeeze over loose dirt
Ease over paved
Knowing false
Posturing hard
Drive home relax make easy turn route casual and
Look listen smell.

Adam Wojack served in the Army as an infantryman for over twenty years in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Panama, Korea and Germany. Now, he teaches English Language Arts to teenagers in the New York City public schools. He has written fiction and non-fiction pieces for The New York Times, Military Review and Nine Lines. He lives in Brooklyn.