Lisa L. Siedlarz

First Night, Watchtower

      For K. S.

No sleep. Swelter chokes, tricks
my brain with shadows so dense
I press night vision goggles to my eyes
until my arms burn and shake.
Beneath stars, rocks and sand crawl
with camel spiders, beige, hairy,
and multi-fanged. Twice the girth
of a double A battery, one chased me
so I crunched it with my boot.
A lone cricket chirs a death dirge.
Distant dogs fire off intermittent barks.
The ra-ta-tat of an automatic weapon
bounces off the Southern Cross,
orange flashes like blinking eyes,
there, and there.
The mosques calls, a hush settles
like dirt. From up high I watch them
bow to Mecca, give thanks.