Embracing the Suck: A Machine Gunner's Story
I stroke the rounds like beautiful pelts
and wait for night. The bullets— let each
find its mark—I name all the same:
Ali Baba, Ali Baba, Ali Baba,
moving my lips and caressing the chamber,
each bullet a rosary bead.
The repetition is persistent,
the song stuck in my head,
You better back the fuck up
Before you get smacked the fuck up*
it calms me, replaces fear of death
the way Saddam, Saddam, Saddam
can sound like a lullaby.
When speaking aloud I say Ali Baba,
to myself I mouth mutha-fucka.
Some days it's too much, the beauty
glinting off my ammo belts, the heat
visible in the twirl of distant dust.
It could all be a dream, picking its way
through the numb, so different from
the weight of my pack, the only certainty
death. I want to walk with arms spread
past the barrier and search for Little Father,
acoustic guitar playing in my head.
Perhaps they'll kill me quick and soft.
* from Tupac's "Hit'em Up"
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