Andy Powell

Joint Military Exercises, Night

normally you can’t really see the horizon at this time
but what with these ambitious spotlights
I can see the little waves glitzing all the way to the end
the governments have elected to make the war games
a great public thing thinking to inspire pride in us constituents
instead of dark nighttime fear in which we depend on the enemies
to imagine what and how hurtful technology we have achieved
I can see the crowd crisp and clear and secretly flexing muscles
with all this light for people to observe them
their baseball caps on even though the sun is tucked away
the exercises were meant to begin by nine on the dot but this is “war”
out of the seagrass pop vendors with coolers of ice-cold Buds
and heat insulating bags stuffed with dogs and buns and helmets
that dispense ketchup while I wait I get totally in focus
with the spotlights trying to sense the first movement
and the first fighter jets scorch in sleek gray unison from behind
to waves of applause they leave swirling contrails in the pearly sky
which pin attention on the warships entering like showhorses
also sleek and gray with lights but shooting fireworks
one side shoots blue and does little spins in between shots
the other side plays stoic but shoots rainbow colored arcs
and even though they are explicit allies and it’s a “game”
feelings of hate are contrived in the chests
of either side’s participants out of the practice of being on sides
I watch closely for the stars
to start shooting for real