On the Road to Basra
by Bill Glose
Fleshy nubs wriggle on the boy’s elbows,
forearms lost in stony plains of Al-Amarah
by a mine meant for Revolutionary Guards
then forgotten like the way he used
to twirl hair at the back of his neck
when he was three. Behind him
Saddam smiles on a sandstone wall, chest
festooned with medals. He doesn’t realize
his face is pockmarked with bullet holes
and splashes of paint black as dried blood.
In the dusty courtyard, sandals kick a soccer ball.
One child breaks free from the scrum, dribbles
toward the crippled goalkeeper. The ball
sails past flailing stubs then bounces
back from the wall. Clapping elbows
together, the boy yells a taunt. Half-arms
dance above his head and he sets his jaw
as if to say, Is that all you’ve got?