From the Anthology 

Veterans’ Voices

Our Occupation in the Summer of ’03

Mansa L. Bey

While in country, we

Made our home

in a bombed out

Palace. It was

Presidential with an


swimming pool.


Its garden grew

Rose bushes and

Sunflowers and

in the shade the

Sun blazed like

the tail end

of missiles.

We couldn’t wait

to invade the museum

and sacred places,

replacing GOD

with artillery.


On the balcony of the

Republican chateau,

we could see and hear

the Black Hawk hovering

over the horizon.

We could see and hear

the toppling of a regime,

where the distant firing

tracers became the

fireworks that reminded

me of home.


Celebrating war,

the bullets became bottle

rockets and the bombs

became playful things

right before one of

us had to die.