Hugh Martin

Indirect Fire

!100! —FOB Cobra

1.

!10! Wolfey’s head inside
his duffel. !50! He’s looking
for headphones. It’s hell,

I’d said, hearing

that Pantera-sounding-shit
!10! blast from your laptop speakers. His head’s

in that duffel still when
!10! we hear the air

outside swallow
itself. !50! & the explosion, the
boom: my stomach

pumped quick
!10! with one quick

wind-gust.

2.

!10! Get down, he whispers as if
it matters.
!10! We get down

like dogs because the sandbags

we’d stacked outside,
!10! half-assed,

are five-feet high. !50! & then

we hug the floor.

3.

!10! From here, I see
a mound of baby powder left

where Lemon likes to stand

& shake too much
!10! on his crotch.

4.

With our rifles we run
from the tent, heads down,

!10! my hand on Wolfey’s back

!10! in the desert night so dark

I can’t see his lunging shape.

!10! Gathered against

Hesco walls of dirt,
our platoon crouches,

silent, listening for the next noise metal

!50! in the sky will make.

5.

!10! I turn the switch—the Nods
click. !50! Now I see:

my platoon’s collage
!50! of camouflaged bodies:

static-green,
!10! wedged against
dirt-barriers.

It is just
!50! our first. We wait.

Everyone
shuts up. Everyone

!10! holds still.

Some men hold on to the gravel.

Hugh Martin is a veteran of the Iraq War and the author of The Stick Soldiers (BOA Editions 2013) and the forthcoming Service (BOA Editions 2018). He is the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, and many other journals. He is completing a Ph.D. at Ohio University.
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