Playing Soldier

       The pitter-patter of little
       bullets ricochets

       off the concrete guard
       towers along the perimeter.

       The range is going hot
       at the same time I am.

       The A/C in my two-man metal
       hut is out. Again. How do they

       expect me to play my PS2
       under these conditions? My fellow

       fueler and I hop into the
       fuel tanker, eight wheels

       rolling through Camp Danger
       (or Liberty, depending on

       whom you talk to) toward
       Saddam’s central temple-

       palace complex in the heart
       and heat of our Tikrit sandbox.

       We’d better go top off, or
       Top will be on our case

       again. PX and bazaar runs
       are the closest things to letting

       loose I can do when
       the power is out on our

       side of the FOB. Unfortunately,
       there’s no time for pastimes, no

       kicking up your heels in this hellhole,
       even though I could hang a

       “We’re Closed, Come Again”
       sign on the door and no one

       would care. The higher-ups
       forget I’m even there

       most of the time, except
       when the bullshit details

       gambol down the line. We arrive
       at the life-size gold-and-ivory

       dollhouse where I buy bootleg
       DVDs and Bolex watches, where

       I spend my war chest on
       Medal of Honor video games

       so I can play Soldier.

Nick Brush served for nearly 10 years in the U.S. Army. His poetry has been published in numerous magazines, and his scholarly research has been featured in The Journal of the Wooden O . Outside of poetry, Nick enjoys and studies Early Modern and Medieval Literature.