Friday, 12 September 2014

Remote control

A flash of white flame
makes a negative image
and the scene
emerges on a screen;
a silent movie
in monotone infrared.

A man on the ground
has a leg missing,
he’s rolling around,
blood spurting out,
a fountain of heat pouring a pool.
Pieces of bodies scattered around a crater,
ghost white against black earth.

It took him a long time to die,
the man whose leg was blown off,
watched by his killer,
the man in the green flight suit
in a windowless metal booth,
who sees from 7,000 miles away.
The 21st century pilot,
Predator controller,
in charge of terminal guidance.

As he watches this death,
this airman who never flies
sits back in his padded chair
and blows smoke into unmoving air.
Cool, this box in the Nevada desert
smells of stale sweat and cigarettes;
a low hum of machinery
constant in the background,
while the chain of command
leads straight to his headset
from ground control station:
‘Countdown — three…two…one -
missile off the rail’.
And a Hellfire flares,
hits target in a distant desert;
he’ll never fail.

At 6pm the airman goes home,
eats dinner in front of the TV,
plays with his son,
who stares at his Xbox and
kills enemies on the screen.
When his wife comes home,
the man is sleeping,
soundly aloof.

The boy kills another avatar.
No one talks, no one touches,
no one really sees.
Gadgets drone and hum,
this is the music of their lives.

This is

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