Below is a gallery created by a local Montana artist, Melissa Benson, her statement protesting the war in Iraq. She contacted me shortly after I returned from the desert and I agreed to participate. She's a remarkable artist.
No matter what I do,
my breath of Iraq goes in, then out.
In, then out.
When I go to the store, Iraq is with me.
The hot plate of my bunkmate,
the sizzle of spam.
When I fill up my car with gas, Iraq is with me.
The rumble of 5-ton trucks, of Humvees,
a long line of a convoy.
When I go to the mailbox, Iraq is with me.
A letter from home,
a tidy manila envelope divorce.
When I hear the gun shot of a hunter in the back woods, Iraq is with me.
Machine gun fire in the dark,
flashed on the perimeter.
When I smell the smoke from a campfire, Iraq is with me.
the burn pit at Camp Anaconda.
When I take a sip of vodka, Iraq is with me.
Smuggled Listerine bottles,
a care package from the States.
When I see a helicopter fly over head, Iraq is with me.
The Hawk that killed a family in the darkness,
guilty as charged.
When I lay down, in late, late, late of night, Iraq is with me.
The relentless midnight mortar march,
something more than hollowed out fear.
So when I close my eyes, I'm back in Iraq.
The camera shutter flicker film flashes before my black lids,
white light for my mind, like the mortars, over ten years ago.
Now, the film is wet,
Because Iraq was where I was born,
Iraq was where I died.
And no matter what I do,
all I can manage are dried up tears,
crying with no more breath.