Dennis Maulsby


Sleeping men lie scattered among desert scrub
wrapped in quilted camo blankets. Their lovers,
in 5.56 and 7.62 millimetres, held close.

It is a time of waiting — that time of morning
when nocturnal animals and spirits
are almost at rest. Yet, we day creatures
remain hushed, hidden, until slapped into activity

by the hot Afghan sun.
In the stillness, I dream of multiple copies of me,
acting their parts in alternate times or dimensions —
our worlds stacked side-by-side

like an infinite deck of cards or roll of coins.
I glimpse flashes of gunfire,
feel the acid burn of adrenaline, and…
smell the copper-mist rising from cooling torn flesh.

The light of local dawn warms my face. Alien worlds
and madness spiral shut, force me back
into the here and now. Shadows cut back-and-forth
among Rīgestān dunes, whisper in Pashtu. I hear
black gunmetal rasp against gravel and sand. My eyes
snap open, stone-empty.

Author’s Note: This poem is based on string theory = infinite alternate worlds possible, and was published in Spillway Magazine, December 2011