Friendly Fire

Fred Johnston

(“I’m sorry, but the chick just got in the way.”—U.S. Marine, who shot and killed an Iraqi woman by mistake.)

So many things get in the way,
You can’t name them all—
You can become a metaphor quickly here.

When I said: The chick just got in the way,
I was trying to explain—
But I could feel the words, like Chiclets,

I chewed them, broke through the skin.
They were salty as blood—
I grew larger than myself, monstrous.

When I said what I said I was
Clean out of language,
Like when you’ve no change for a phone.

So what’s in a name?
I aimed at one thing and hit another,
It’s regrettable, there’s no other word for it.


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