by Adam Graaf

Here is a sunbaked brick 
from Ur, Kurdish dinars, 
and a poster of Saddam waving 
his rifle skyward. 
Here is the flag I found 
in a cache guarded by troops 
ordered not to take
the bayonets and uniforms 
they’d seized—so we did— 
the rank I cut loose 
from the enemy’s rotting 
beret, the gasmask I shipped home,
the pack of smokes 
I bartered water for, 
and a book I pulled from rubble. 
Here is an Iraqi soldier’s 
abandoned personnel record 
I stole from a rusted cabinet: 
his name penciled 
in Arabic, his height 
and weight and next of kin, 
his awards and past duty
stations, even his eye color, 
which I cannot tell from the black 
and white photo still 
stapled to the file’s corner. 
And here is the cardboard box 
in which I manage 
to keep it all. If I move it,
the grit that settled scrapes inside.

Originally published in CONSEQUENCE (Spring 2015).