outside my window, a helicopter
buzzes the tree tops. In the heartbeat
between the bleat of rotator blades,
I’m in the ambush where I perfected
the art of waiting only a short decade ago.
Like the day before, I count the hours
by the cigarettes, earning every
carat of a diamond heart. As I mute
the radio, the butcher carts
dead chickens through the souq.  

On a patrol in an alley behind the ruins
of the Rashid hotel, the squad leader
halts a car for a hasty search. When we found
the sniper rifle under a rug in the back seat,
the driver’s stare cut through my Kevlar vest
as his wrists were flexi-cuffed together.
I’ve never seen a man who wanted
to kill me so badly—just to disappear
into the crevise of a perfect nightmare.

I still dream about Ramadi & wake
expecting to find the vantage point
of Post Bravo through my window,
or the fireball lofting out the Vehicle-
borne IED from OP Three-Nine-Five,

still envision that man & how he was executed
hours later with a single shot to the head—
the shooter still eludes me, will always elude me.

When I focus during the stillest hour,
I see it again, but for my preservation,
I never saw it. Like the surf sliding
back into ocean, the image dissolves
swift & untraceable. Exactly,
how blood glides over pavement.  

Kyle Adamson has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and a BFA from Hamline University. He is the winner of the AWP Intro to Journals Award in poetry, a Pushcart nominee, and a finalist in the Consequence Poetry Prize. His work can be found in the Water~Stone Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, the Beloit Poetry Journal and others. He served in the Marine Corps infantry and deployed twice to Iraq. Kyle lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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