What Was It Like? --by Bohdan Sirant, 2011 What was it like? What was it like?

It’s hard to explain And harder to understand Unless you were there Why don’t you go to the library And get some books On the war? Look up Kandahar Koh-i-Baba And Hindu Kush Come on, try me What was it like? Well, there were some very good things Like the laughter and smiles of kids Who got to eat treats from our IMPs -- Individual Meal Packs… A.k.a. “I Must Pukes”… But for them Exotic Canadian take-out And really bad things… The fanatical and merciless brutality Of backward bigoted bullying badasses Who were as icy as cold room cleavers And hated us with gleaming, glaring fury And the weather there No matter where In the jagged mountains In the dead of winter Or inside a sweltering LAV And many boring things Like continuously cleaning our gear Of the ever present puffed-up powdery dust


And as always Conflict, confusion and chaos The fog of war Bullshit galore and chickenshit Think sand, sand and more sand Crystal clear skies Distant mountain ranges Adobe and stone huts and compounds High-walled courtyards Braying donkeys Sheep Fat ass tents Helicopters Four Fan Garbage Cans Market places Endless poppy fields Supplying the world opium trade Farmers threshing wheat by hand The endless quest for water The strange and intriguing etiquette So, what was it like? It was different for everyone It depended on many things If you were in or outside the wire In harm’s way or not It depended On your job On your rank On your sex --gender that is On your buddies On your backup On your allies On your leaders On logistics On your equipment On your training On your mission On your enemy On your karma Or Lady Luck


Or where you were At that critical moment That unforgiving minute When the enemy struck Or death paid a visit And if your number was up It was up Not just to die But to be horribly mutilated And not just in body But in mind and spirit For me it was like living In an unending horror movie Complete with slow motion Heavy shadows and hard light Fade-outs and flashbacks Where relentless, ruthless, remorseless Two-faced monsters Looked just like everyone else Or were invisible Of course there were intermissions For some R&R And news blackouts But then the movie came on again And I was back in it I didn’t want to be another victim In the certain bloodbath And I didn’t want my friends slain either We were all short-timers Counting down the days I was afraid of snotty, smart-ass kids Wrinkled and bearded men Blue burka’d women Zippy white Toyota corollas And overburdened camels And the stinking garbage By the side of the road And the maggot-ridden body That had lain there for days


I was afraid of any pile of rocks I feared anything out of place (And most things seemed out of place) I feared anything approaching us Really pretty near Everything and everybody And I overrode that fear To go out everyday To live the dream No matter what And hunt the cunning And elusive enemy Imagine this… Imagine finding a jack-in-the-box toy Like the one you played with When you were a kid Except that instead of a clown popping up It exploded And ripped your hands off Sometimes a toy is not a toy Imagine your buddy’s teeth Dark from chewing tobacco Turned into shrapnel Stuck in your cheek and neck Imagine a mangy and bony dog Running down the street With a child’s severed hand In its crooked jaws Imagine finding a once-beautiful woman’s face Now a flap of skin Lying on the ground Like a floppy masquerade ball mask Excuse me, but I’ve really got to go. Sure, but… Hey, I’m glad you asked


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