Controlled Detonation

Near the Tigris’ bend

in fields of figs and grapes,

Balad’s ramparts ascend

from the landscape it misshapes.


Within, stone pillars square

shoulder by shoulder around

us soldiers unaware

of explosives soon unbound.


The Airmen don their suits,

padded as they pray,

slow in steel-toed boots

for fear today’s their day.


Forward they send the drone

to disarm the clever bomb

of a maker that’s unknown,

that sustains the cycle on.


No siren warns the restful,

sleeping from our toil,

as shears snip at a vessel’s

poorly wired coils.


As the continuity fades,

and electrical currents shunt,

a shock jerks toward its grave,

to the earth it interrupts.


We rouse in concrete’s shell

By swell of earth provoked,

Asleep, the sound’s bell,

Awake, a wartime yoke.


The beat against our backs

reminds us of our birth,

when a doctor’s frantic racks

pronounced our violent earth.


We laugh away our dread

while safe within our haven,

as the PA warbles out,

“controlled detonation.”