The Art of Tetman Callis Poems operation little pigs

operation little pigs

the rains came raining hard and for weeks cold autumn rains out of low gray
skies the desert’s flowers bloomed rotted and washed away lizards snakes and
rabbits gathered on high ground around clumps of mesquite coyotes
padded splashing through puddles searching for stragglers inadequately
hidden under the mesquite’s protecting thorns or for corpses bloating
just under the face of the waters or washed up on the shorelets
around each little clump island where the ground was turning into the
kind of mud you could make into bricks for houses if only the rain
would stop and the sun come out long enough for the bricks to be cut then
baked through dry and hard thousands of square miles round miles triangulated
miles jagged-edged miles shoved up one against the other with edges that
didn’t match all these miles covered in household mud just waiting to be
cut shaped and patted into bricks leavened with the bones the coyotes
didn’t eat with stems and leaves of drowned grasses blossoms off rotted
wildflowers a nation could be mobilized given a mission
volunteers crusading into the desert to make bricks for all the
shivering homeless of africa asia indianapolis
and south fusilado of the cardboard shacks there would be no need for
the sun to come out the army could be sent in soldiers towing huge
field ovens behind heavy tracked vehicles bricks baked on the spot spray
coated with some experimental titanium- or graphite-based
resin then loaded onto pallets in stacks covered with canvas bearing
reinforced eyes at specified intervals along the edges strong
nylon ropes passing through the eyes and made secure other ropes coming
off the corners of the pallets to join and loop loosely at the tops
while huge helicopters settle over fields of pallets hovering
while soldiers in ponchos and boonie hats stand atop the palleted
stacks of canvas-covered resin-coated bricks the soldiers hooking
the ropes to hooks hanging from chains hanging from the bellies of the
helicopters the soldiers double-checking to ensure that the ropes
and hooks and chains are secure then jumping from the pallets into the
mud splashing catching the eyes of the helicopter pilots giving
the high sign the thumbs up the wave off the when you are ready gridley
to the pilots whose helicopters lift straining against the weight of
their loads pulling the pallets out of the sucking mud and up into
cruising altitude flying them to the nearest concrete airstrip where
military transports dumpy olive drab turboprops and sleek silver
jets wait to take on loads of bricks made of mud and bones and flowers to
fly to every part of the world bringing the makings of homes to
millions of people who may have had a pot to piss in but had no
window to throw it out of who would never know what it was like to
have the wolf at the door until they could build themselves huts to put doors
in people who for ease of planning could be reckoned as being without
discernible direction who would never know what hit them when it
did who knew how to be grateful for the well-molded military
brick who could speak a smattering of english who could swallow pride by
the tunful who knew what side their bread was buttered on if they could get
bread and who could be counted on never to breathe a word always to
go quietly ever to wait their turn and know it when it came and
never to forget never to forgive and who would swear that next time
it wouldn’t be them and it wouldn’t be rain

(Published in different form as “The Well-Molded Military Brick” in New York Tyrant, 18 December 2017; copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

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