Friday, June 1, 2007

They Still Shoot Horses

They still shoot horses
          who break their legs
                    tangled twisted
               no more a race horse
          no longer desired.

They train you
     give you amphetamines
     and they tell you who to kill—
     the wife of a dissident in hiding
          the ten year old son
          of a minor official
          whose loyalty is suspect.
     You don’t know why you kill these people.—
          you sight the scope
          you calm your breathing
          you squeeze
a puff of smoke
     and it is done—
     but you imagine
you have to imagine
     a reason.
You tell yourself
     these people are terrorists
     these people are insurgents
but there are too many men who kiss their children goodbye
     too many wives
     too many children.
The reasons you imagine are lies
     and you realize this
     and it is the loneliest, most desolate night
               of your life.

You remember a racetrack in your youth
     a trampled jockey
     the horse neighing in pain
     silence both before and after
               the firing of the gun.