by Brian Turner
To yield force to is an act of necessity, not of will;
it is at best an act of prudence.
If you hear gunfire on a Thursday afternoon,
it could be for a wedding, or it could be for you.
Always enter a home with your right foot;
the left is for cemeteries and unclean places.
O-guf! Tera armeek is rarely useful.
It means Stop! Or I’ll shoot.
Sabah el khair is effective.
It means Good morning.
Inshallah means Allah be willing.
Listen well when it is spoken.
You will hear the RPG coming for you.
Not so the roadside bomb.
There are bombs under the overpasses,
in trashpiles, in bricks, in cars.
There are shopping carts with clothes soaked
in foogas, a sticky gel of homemade napalm.
Parachute bombs and artillery shells
sewn into the carcasses of dead farm animals.
Graffiti sprayed onto the overpasses:
I will kell you, American.
Men wearing vests rigged with explosives
walk up, raise their arms and say Inshallah.
There are men who earn eighty dollars
to attack you, five thousand to kill.
Small children who will play with you,
old men with their talk, women who offer chai—
and any one of them
may dance over your body tomorrow.
Last updated December 25, 2014