Of Guns And Paintbrushes

for Charles King, 1958-2006

Seeing his son
for the first time
and the last time,
this artist-turned-soldier
dies in the desert
praying for rain,
praying for us
to pray against
those who prey on peace.
He is our king,
our frontline,
our lamentation.
And when
business-suited dignitaries
finally etch out their boundaries
all that’s left of him
are his paintings:
hulking canvasses
retelling the silently epic battles
that ravaged tanks and convoys:
machines under siege,
their treads torn—
each portrait losing its
camouflaged flesh
to the flying and
flickering sand.

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