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In Afghanistan

      by Paul Kesler

  Burnished by the sun,
  as birds flail the precipice
  yesterday, tomorrow,
  and hover the crest of today,

  stretched out endlessly ---
  their droppings that never
  cease dropping,
  fragments, concussions
  in the brain,
  as shacks and houses crumble,
  the children groping like beasts
  and the beasts like children ---
  their forays toward colors, not objects
  that lie in wait,

  though no promise is promised
  since the end could be life
  or death
  as when a child picks at a yellow
  dropping ---
  this color that beckons
  toward life or death ---
  but explodes as the fingers come
  though no lab waits
  as the fingers fly,
  no car waits
  as the body dissects,
  houses, roads,
  crumbled to dust,
  the only sight the colors
  the bright things beckoning.

  We know there is no tomorrow
  that does not beckon,
  though we are ill-prepared,
  yes, ill-prepared
  to reach, like a child,
  for the future
  or what may lay in wait.

  We reach only to stay,
  near nothing,
  burnished by the hunger,
  burnished by the sun,
  as birds continue their search ---

  not camels going to market,
  but coming away
  from places too far to see,
  yes, further than the birds,
  though they have sold nothing
  but death and the promise of
  for an eternal promise
  that may never bring
  for these children that 
  that come back hungry,
  these mothers that search,
  fathers that search,
  their jaws moving,
  waiting for the dawn that beckons,
  like a brightening color ---

  or does not return.

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