The Road to Baghdad         

Is less a road than a floral
collection of spongy and soft
bodies, a gathering of the myriad

colors of nations—burnt umber,
puce, kiln red, olive drab, hot
steel.  It is a road that stretches

eternally into the ochre mocha
of the horizon.  The road
to Baghdad has its own atmosphere

and sound, so unlike the roads
I have driven in the States—here,
the road is silent but for the pops

and spits of flame where trucks
clutch the bright and colorful
bodies of the unfortunate dead.

The road to Baghdad is like the aftermath
of a Fourth of July parade—streets
littered with the chaos of celebration,

where dyed paper and the bright
hulls of fireworks gather in the gutter.
Sometimes, I look for the road

to Baghdad in old maps or on
the web, but I can never find
it—the distance of time has cleared

it from the record books, has erased
it from everywhere but my mind, and
from the minds of those soldiers who saw

it with me.  Today, I awake in the morning
with unexplained scratches on the bridge
of my nose, and I ask my empty room, where

has that road gone?  I understand that if there
is no road, then there is no me.  But if none
of this ever really happened, how do I awaken

every morning to the sun burning my outline
into the wild asphalt of that beautiful highway?