25 Hours from Northern Iraq

I stood in the rain and listened
to the cell phone slowly dying,
swearing in the soaked streets,
it was my brother fading away
this time to desert and sun
bullet and mortar
I thought I could hear the planes, engines silencing
last-minute men called to lose themselves
in phosphorous haze,
smoke and dust.
Camouflage streaking across the runway
as they march, loaded down with guns,
parachutes packed tight as the planes turn south
roll forward
gain speed
and fly towards hell.
What was he thinking
over the Mediterranean Sea,
waves running green and blue
against dead sand?





burkephotoTravis Burke has worked in conflict and development in Afghanistan, Somalia, Ukraine, and Thailand. After two years in Helmand Province, working closely with Marines and Afghan forces, he returned to the States to focus on writing and consulting. “25 Hours” is based on his brother’s time at the start of the Iraq War. Originally from Reno, Nevada, he writes poems, stories, and essays on the outdoors and politics at https://thebigwild.wordpress.com. His work has also appeared in Euromaidan Press and Brushfire. He is based in Portland, Oregon.