I’m Sorry for the Grunts Get Killed

I’m sorry for the grunts get killed, blown up 
or shot in the face in downtown Baghdad,
 Mosul, or Basra or whatever place
 in occupied Iraq the Emperor
has sent his legions to bring order to the world
with tanks, gunships and Pax Americana.
I’m sorry for young soldiers who stop cars
and find their lives are stopped forever. And
the way their colleagues – caught on videocamera –
come scrambling to collect their twisted bits
of intestine and bladder off the ground
and try to push them back inside again.
‘Sorry’. Such a word! The word I use
to squeeze past someone on the bus or when
I accidentally drop a teaspoon. But
I want a word won’t sound ‘poetic’. Won’t
turn this into another formulaic
anti-war tirade, laying blame,
demanding peace. I’m sorry for the mothers
and the wives who lift the phone or get
the telegram or whatever way
it’s broken to them. It must be the end
of everything. And then the airport, funeral
out to Arlington, or wherever. In
the catalogue of tortures every Iraqi
man, woman, child has had to suffer
since the legions came I know the deaths
of legionaries will count for little. Still,
I’m sorry for the grunts get killed, their bodies
burned, their charred limbs held up as trophies.



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