Our Afghan brothers cannot see past the ramp
into the black wide open that is
only feet away beneath the turn of our rotors.
Our goggle eyes paint the dark
green with spinny lights and ghosts,
a Van Gogh on black velvet: “Starry Night, with guns.”
We stand Shohna ba Shohna, shuffling off into the churning air.
We will walk down this mountain together at dawn,
stopping in each village. The Afghans will do all the talking.
We may own the night, after all,
but we are renting their country by the day.
Author’s note: “Shohna ba Shohna” is Dari for “Shoulder to Shoulder,” and is the motto for the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A). This poem first appeared in the anthology No, Achilles: War Poetry (Water Wood Press, Huntsville, Texas, 2015).
Author: Randy Brown
Randy Brown was embedded as a civilian journalist in 2011 with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division, the Iowa National Guard unit with which he served before retiring in 2010. He is a free lance writer and editor, and he operates a blog about military writing and about his former unit at www.redbullrising.com. His book of poetry is Welcome to FOB Haiku.