by Ares Demertzis (Sept. 2006)
The deceivingly brittle buildings appeared to have melted in submission to centuries of implacable, afflictive desert heat, their jumbled debris strewn haphazardly across the ravaged landscape. The rumbling of distant thunder promised to the credulously hopeful a prompt, humid respite, but they were actually missile explosions that rained down from an oppressive and smoky sky to burst with devastating force, collapsing the lingering fractured structures. Closer by were the relentless, vindictive lesser grumbles, albeit equally lethal, from cunning improvised explosive devices, land mines, mortars, and rocket propelled grenades.
As he turned the corner into another deserted street, his rifle held firmly in front of him, a finger resting lightly on the trigger, he saw the little girl. She couldn’t be more than eight or nine years old, he surmised; scrawny legs protruded from the hem of a ragged and soiled dress, her face and hair powdered a dirty grey with crumbled masonry. She was standing alone, mute, eyes wide in a face devoid of expression next to the corpse of a man partly buried under the rubble; a grenade launcher tangled between his twisted, barefoot limbs. She reminded him somehow of his own young daughter back home, whose creased, sweat stained photograph he had been looking at when the order was given to take the village.
Removing his hand from the weapon, the soldier reached into his pocket and pulled out a chocolate bar, offering it gently with an encouraging smile on his lips. The little girl extended a fragile arm, palm open, and approached him with a shy grin. Her other hand emerged from behind her back, tossing the hand grenade she was holding between his legs.
I watched as they let fly.
The pristine dove to sweep from right to left across a purple sky.
But no, it wasn`t a dove.
It was the drop of crimson blood.
Spilling into my sightless eye.
(After EA Poe)
The gentle man opened his eyes, finally aroused by the insistent, rhythmic tapping; groggy after a long, lethargic slumber.
Through the window he observed a raven tap tap tapping high on the bare branch of a December tree.
The raven winked at him.
"I'll be a son of a bitch!" he growled in ignorant disbelief.
And found himself at the foot of the bed, floating like a shadow on the floor; licking his testicles.
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