Hugh Martin

Indirect Fire

!100! —FOB Cobra


!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



!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.


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

where Lemon likes to stand

& shake too much
!10! on his crotch.


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.


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

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

!10! wedged against

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

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.