If this isn't war

I started thinking about landmines while sitting on the floor

of this stranger’s guest house. when, deep in thought,

I looked down at the small Persian-style rug in an orange

and blue palate, I saw a dried-up little shred of cheese. isn’t

it funny

how you know that yellow? 


the river outside the window, maybe

a hundred feet or more beyond the fence, 

a tree, 

a row of rainbow Adirondack chairs 

– plastic I think – 

flows steadily.

I’ve expected the call of geese

like I expect at home to notice a shadow

across the window before I hear cacophony. instead 

a red-headed woodpecker punches the sound

of another hole in a thick trunk out the window. 


the geese are here, but they offer me something else:

no sound. I watch two geese coast over the brown-green 

water, then coast up, flapping in coordination toward 

somewhere else.

there’s no certainty here – 

not in the way the sun will wake me.

not in how the toilet flushes.

not in a shred of yellow.


in almost-February, two-thousand-twenty, the department

of defense issued a statement for immediate release

naming landmines a vital tool… that the US cannot 

responsibly forgo...


the statement goes on to assure the presence of safeguards –

how a landmine my government will use has a clock that ticks

down to self-destruction or deactivation, there’s no more story here –

just as we do: self-destruction

or deactivation. 


how the issue was ever blowing up the wrong 

person and not that we righteously blow people up –

do you feel that? 


the world made us stop for a while. but landmines –

we cannot responsibly forgo. 


how do you shape an enemy’s movement as my government does? 


a friend told me about the Plaid Pantry 

he can see from his cell window

and his dream of resistance that might

consist of buying a candy bar, a bag of chips, 

maybe a single-serving Tylenol packet

when he gets free.


how does danger knit together?
how did it knit together to land him at that window

overlooking the Plaid Pantry? at some point

did you deactivate? or will you 

self destruct? what kind of candy bar

will he buy?


how did we ever decide that justice 

is cages and ticking time bombs? 


if this isn’t war, what do you want to name it? 

will you ask your friends, what we should call this

thing we don’t call war?