My old RPG-bearing acquaintence

Street life in Al Amarah.

Street life in Al Amarah, Iraq, 2004.

I thought I’d give Brian Turner a rest from duty today. The following poem I wrote a while back, basing it on the experience in the turret of Delta-30 of  engaging a man holding an RPG launcher at the corner of a building in downtown Al Amarah–at Red 11 on the spot map, if memory serves me.

It was one of the incidents about which I wrote in my Guardian article (if you want a bit more context) regarding the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion.


Dust cascades in memory’s bow
As heartless bullets twist in free fall;
A dim silhouette rendered is all
Linking him with recollections now.

Meeting in that torrid circumstance
Motivations are hard to say still;
Pride, glory, sport—on automatic to kill,
Or lost between religions’ intransigence?

Events unfolded, flowing like gritty spit;
Shouting, buttons pressed—turret turning
Judgments all the time deferring:
A human life chosen to attrite.

If from the dust he turned back
And dashed round the wall—lungs bursting
To remain like all for life thirsting,
That would surpass any thrill of attack.

I often can’t help wondering what he might be or might not be doing now; does he have dim recollections of a tank turret suddenly turning toward him or did all possibility of recollections end for him that day?