Dave and I volunteered for Afghanistan.
The Marine sergeant said we were too old.
“But we want to kill Osama bin Laden!”
The tough old bird cracked, “So get in line.”
Our Langley chief listened, then smiled at us:
“In shooting wars, poets get no respect.”

Dave kicked a can as we walked back. “Respect!”
he fumed. “Do they ‘respect’ Afghanistan?
The symbolism of cruise missiles got us
into this. It’s going to take tropes old
and new to get us out.” Waiting on line
to see a film about Osama bin Laden,

a guy who looked like Osama bin Laden
was dragged down an alley. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”
blared out above a record store. The headline
on a newspaper from Afghanistan
urged a jihad. Dave mused, “Maybe some old
anthrax dropped from crop dusters on us?”

As we jaywalked, a taxi nearly hit us.
“Don’t worry,” I said, “Osama bin Laden
won’t be how we’ll die.” On Duane, an old
man doffed his cap in mocking disrespect,
then begged for change. “I’m From Afghanistan—
Eat Me” his placard read. “Hey, here’s a line,”

I said. ‘Will Blow Up Domestic Airline
for Food’—what do you think?" “God help us,”
Dave grinned. “Any god. Is that Afghanistan
humor? ‘Now take Osama bin Laden—
please!’” “Hey, you assholes show some respect!”
I whirled, deflected the blow, used an old

Kung fu move to disarm some putz in an old
fireman’s hat. His buddy shouted, “I’ll line
a birdcage with your face!” “Oh, that’s respect,”
Dave said, macing him. “You queers hate the U.S.!”
I picked up their flag. “Osama bin Laden
is hetero,” Dave called. “And in Afghanistan.”

Downtown, dust covered us. Dave said, “That old
‘respect’ line’s as puerile as Osama bin Laden.”
Dust rose. We dug down, toward Afghanistan.