at the Motel Mehtar Lam
by Randy Brown

When I’d had my fill of war that week,
I buttoned-up in a plywood B-hut hooch

and fell asleep to a "Clash of the Titans" DVD
I'd scrounged from the waiting-area jetsam.

No swimming pool, but there was a grave,
cordoned off, in the middle of the helipad.

In a nightstand drawer, instead of Gideon, 
I found someone else's Bronze Star Medal set.

Later, awakened to a bluster of muffled ghost-chopper wings,
I rolled over–opted not to open my door into the black.

To this day, I do not know whether death
was visiting that night

or just refueling.


Randy Brown embedded with his former Iowa Army National Guard unit as a civilian journalist in Afghanistan, May-June 2011. A 20-year veteran with one overseas deployment, he subsequently authored the 2015 poetry collection Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire. He also co-edited the 2019 anthology Why We Write: Craft Essays on Writing War. He is a three-time poetry finalist in the Col. Darron L. Wright Memorial Writing Awards. His poetry and non-fiction have appeared widely in print and on-line, including in Midwest Architecture Journeys and Level Land: Poems for and about the I-35 Corridor, forthcoming in 2021 from Lamar University Press. As “Charlie Sherpa,” he blogs about modern war poetry at, and about military-themed writing at