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The Wish

by Paul David Adkins

I wish a gunman blessed me
through his genuflecting crosshair,
the angel of his metal prayer
singing like a bee
above the poppies.

I wish
the IED I overstepped
had cupped a functional
blasting cap
within the molded plastique.

It would have
been easier
to spin a one-legged cartwheel
through that booby-trapped
date palm grove

than to dry now
slow as a clipped rose

hanging
limp above
the flower press
and heavy, ancient book.

Curse what coordinates
led the mortar team
to crank their waiting tube
ten mils to the left,

and uneven limestone
tilted the battered baseplate.

Damn the crooked pebble
resting on
the launching block
of the Zuni rocket
pointed at the FOB,

the pebble
which rolled the rocket
one inch right

to harmlessly gouge
jersey concrete
five yards past
my CHU.

The Huey which spooked
the rooftop sniper who,

returning
to his perch,
spied me fresh
and drew
a bead again

only
to snare
a gnat

in the cast net
of his sweaty lash.