Two Fifties and a Tomato Cart
by Pope Loudicruce

Two.50 calibre rounds destroyed the old man's head
there was nothing left in the space
where once eyes, nose, mouth had lived
his face was shredded
The tomato cart untouched because
Americans fire tight shot groups
and they were directed at his head
The female MP surveyed the horror
with cool distaste posed the question
'cause of death? ' It was procedure.
An Army private could not resist delivering
his line with a wry twist of gallows humor
'Seems to me, seargeant, loss of head
would be the cause of death.'
Hearing this story now, second hand,
I am unable to make any sense of it.
I fail to grasp the value of it's telling
The facts are clear-
American convoy drew near
the old man and his tomato cart
two fifties opened up and took his head apart
head controls heart thus, life functions ceased
threat eliminated the American convoy eased
to a stop-
and the paperwork started with clinical indifference
to the recently departed tomato cart man
I feel nothing
I am unable to engage emotions though I guess
Somewhere, someone will be lost in an ocean of grief
that will bear no consolation-
no amount of belief in God, Allah, Jahweh
can begin to explain the immensity of their loss
as I attempt to calculate the cost to the Army as roughly-
the empty feeling inside of me as
I try to tell myself I'm not dead-
try to sell myself on the idea that somewhere-deep inside
I'm aghast at the cheapness of life in the combat zone
where everybody dies alone and I know
each loss is a personal tragedy to someone back home
a catastrophy to mothers like Cindy Sheehan.
But what about the tomato cart man, his head squashed
like a ripe tomato by the twin hammers
of two fifties?
How much does his death really affect me?
It hits me then and I want to take the fact
and drive it through my own head like
those two fifties until
my head gives way
and my heart stops because
it is now clear that the numbness has become so severe
that I might as well be dead
Cause of death?
Not loss of Head
Oh no, no
I'd say loss of Heart

Copyright © 2006 - Pope Loudicruce
Published: 9/6/06   ·  Author's Page   ·  Next Poem