This idea has been rolling around in my brain for a while, and I wrote a draft of it once but somehow can’t find it. So, here’s this, that I wrote when I couldn’t sleep or think of anything else. I hate it. It feels too forced, and it’s definitely not the tone I want, but here it is anyway.

They sit in my class
on Thursdays, in uniform.

They write about ROTC in their papers,
describing a feeling of belonging.

Some of them plan to turn high school pastime
into career.

I see recruiters in the hallway:
Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force.
I want to flip their tables and scatter
pamphlets to the four winds.

I overhear recruiters talking to children in coffee shops
listing the benefits
and glossing over the exchange of bodies for tuition.

Human capital.
Their youth.
Their lives.
Their loves in exchange for the bullshit
belief of freedom they think they’re fighting for.

My students, children still even though they think they’re grown.

Children still, duped into thinking they owe
their lives, that they’re protecting
loved ones
thinking there’s an evil enemy
outside our borders.

Children are murdered by adults raised
on war and patriotism
fed to them with the label of
Lady Liberty’s milk
but inside the bottle
there’s just oil.

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