Mouse Problem in Iraq

I remember:

The glint of the shovel in the moonlight,
the dry, cracked earth
the helicopter in the distance

The way he said, no
let me
and so I nodded, handed the shovel

But that was the first, I don’t know how many came after
day shift said, oh god, no
we just throw them in the trash,
can’t stand the little buggers

But sergeant Frese and I,
night shift:
me, a skinny little kid, boots too big, britches too tight
he, an old Vietnam veteran, crusty, a pack of Marb Reds a day
we knew what we had to do

So when the mice got caught on the giant glue traps
when we heard that incredibly loud calling out
of the deepest anguish
the last thing the mouse could possibly do
we knew what we had to do

I thought briefly of the other mice just lying there in the dumpster
twisted distortedly as the garbage piled up, the light slowly fading

We smoked a cigarette afterwards
that terrible, desolate place
the moon so big, so bright

It’s true. Every war’s the same

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