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Exerpt from Dirty Snow


A dropped school falls through air,

turning slowly as debris

pours from windows: a contrail of papers and books

streams upwards thousands of metres

alongside computers, chairs, desks that tumble amid

woodworking equipment, lockers, maps,

basketballs, stage curtains

all aimed

toward tiny huts far below—a brushy hillside's

cluster of subsistence farms

reportedly harboring armed men: fenced yards

with a few chickens, one cow, an ancient horse eyeing

six rows of parched vegetables.

Above the school

while it descends,

another follows, and beyond that, nearly invisible,

a third floats as the fighter-bomber arcs

away, and a second jet drones into position.

The pilot of the first, now on the mission's homeward leg,

reaches down in his cockpit

toward a thermos of hot coffee.

On the ground, hospitals released

in the initial attack wave

erupt sequentially into plumes of fire and dust

as the buildings land: operating tables,

obstetric wards, wheelchairs shatter into shrapnel,

the jagged particles racing outward amid the roiling smoke

to slice through mud walls, animal flesh, stone fences,

human lives that cling to the shaking

shuddering earth

while they clutch forty-year-old rifles

or axes, or the hand of a two-year-old

below the flash of wing

very distant

in the blue-and-white sky.