Iowa Writes

"Foot Patrol"

The blue bruise under his eye
is like the skin of a cold plum. Blood
dries beneath his nose

as we listen to the eucalyptus
scratch the violet sky
in the dusk wind. My platoon stands

with our rifles in the day's leftover
exhaust smoke settled
in the valley. The Iraqi sergeant

smashed this man's face
twice with the wooden
butt of his Kalashnikov;

he'd swung it
with both hands
like a tennis racket. The man

had been seen digging
beside the long road
into Jalula. The young boy

who sells blocks of ice
pushes his red car home,
waves, Mister, Goodnight...

When the echo of his creaking
cart dissolves down the alley,
in the deep silence, my body

says there could be a blast—
enormous—in this dusky
muted night, but we are moving

for a foot patrol where I have
no choice but to press my feet,
softly, on that road of earth.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Hugh Martin is a veteran of the Iraq War. His chapbook, So, How Was the War (Kent State University Press, 2010), was published by the Wick Poetry Center, and his first book, The Stick Soldiers, just out from BOA Editions, won the 2011 A. Poulin Jr. Prize. He is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

"Foot Patrol," along with ten more poems by Hugh Martin, is from the latest issue (Spring 2013; 43.1) of The Iowa Review.

This page was first displayed
on May 27, 2013

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