image: A police officer inspects the scene of a killing in the southern city of Basra, 500 kms from Baghdad.(AFP/Essam al-Sudani)

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image and poem below the fold

by Richard M. Berlin

For months she has dreamed in red,
screaming when she sees
blood on the floor, blood
dripping from gloves.
Silent and numb at work,
her hands shake when she hangs
a unit. Day after day
she startles past the room, flashes
on his last whisper:
I’m so scared.

She turns toward his words.
Blood flows from his mouth,
soaks his gown a deep red-brown.
She Code Blues a prayer,
stands aside as the team arrives
in ones and twos, breathless,
mouth blood pulsing.
Starched and spotless
compressed in the doorjamb,
she is untouched
by the blood on their gloves,
the blood in the lines,
the blood spattered on white Nikes,
floor slick with cells and plasma.
Eyes locked on the flat-lined monitor,
she hears the last blood gurgle,
the team quiet and calm in a lake of blood.
And after they raise him on the cart,
she fills out the forms,
watches a woman mop,
hears soles stick to the floor,
the splash of pink water on steel.

caption, continued: A former member of the Baath party and now a local councilor for the Swafa neighborhood of the city, Kadhem Abed Shalash was shot dead by three unknown assailants according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

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