She spoke softly, calmly recounting
her pain through a furnace of litanies
that helped her hold on to the unbelief
that the boy who hanged himself
in her basement was the same boy
silent in the glossy photograph
that she displayed in her hands,
whose memory snarled like
a wild dog at her ankle.
“A murderer,” he’d called himself,
remembering the two kneeling Iraqi
captives whose last sight was his AR-14.
“Joe had just wanted something to do,”
whispered the lady with the photo.
So, through the smoke that melted away
from extinguished Iraqi cities, Joe drove his truck.
Joe buried corpses. Joe obeyed orders.
He once stopped at an intersection where he
saw a child torn apart and tossed in bloody indignity.
Her lifeless hands clutched an American flag.
On that memorable day, he shot them.
The fear in Iraqi eyes branded a horror
that beckoned his liquor, fueled his despair,
and stretched Mrs. Logan’s garden hose.
In the photograph
there is a young girl’s blood-stained flag
furled atop the chest of
the young Marine.
Louis Templeman lives at the Baker Correctional Institution in Sanderson, Florida.