Craig Fishbane is a writer and teacher in New York City. His work has been published in the New York Quarterly, Flashquake, Opium and Night Train. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2008.

Targets of Opportunity

A collection of words and phrases
from the media coverage of the newest Gulf war
in the form of a love poem

This report comes to you live by video phone
From the front lines.
We have conflicting information
But the resistance has been light.

We are embedded—you and I—on the southern bank of the Euphrates river.
We feel pretty good that we’ve covered a lot of ground
But there could be some untidiness as we go forward.
Secure is somewhat of an overstatement.

Are we a coalition of the willing
Or just targets of opportunity?
I won’t comment on what’s under our control now—
The operation has not concluded.

Your assets are considerable:
You give me great flexibility.
You stretch out your lines of communication.
You’ve got a great refueling point.

We put out the fires that are burning
With precision and care
But the toughest fighting still lies ahead—

A sustained commitment.
Large parts of the city have been plunged into darkness.
A sustained commitment.
Huge plumes of smoke.
A sustained commitment.
Six months at least.
A sustained commitment.
It could be years.
A sustained commitment.
Statues toppling, mass looting.
A sustained commitment.
It’s quite possible things will implode from within.

The dust is in every piece of equipment we have
As we try desperately to devise new defenses
But we’re better at this than we used to be.
This will be a campaign unlike any other in history
Because you know as well as I do that weakness is provocative:
It entices people to do what they otherwise would not.

We have ongoing contacts
And it’s only intensified in recent days:
Moving rapidly.
It’s going to slow down.
Moving rapidly.
It’s going to slow down.
It’s ongoing.
It’s various.
The outcome is certain.
The skies of Baghdad are lighting up.

We want to return to the Pentagon now:
Doing it the best possible way—
Strike package:
Tomahawk, stinger, bunker buster.
Laser guided precision.
Hellfire missiles.
The use of special forces.
The strikes are rolling.
The outcome is certain.
Better at this than we used to be.
Moving rapidly.
We’re hearing explosions.
The outcome is certain.
The outcome is certain.
Shock and awe.
Shock and awe.
Shock and awe.
Mother of all bombs!

Smoking cigars in Saddam’s palaces.
Lives have been saved.
Night has fallen in Baghdad.
Secure is still somewhat of an overstatement.
But the front lines appear to be shifting.

And now back to basketball.

--Craig Fishbane