The Lost Cause

by Mark DeFoe

          In some jungle, waiting.

What we feared may be amongst us. We sniff
the wind. We hang on each change of intonation.
We note the qualms, the almost unnoticed
shake of the head, the thousand yard stare.

They say to believe demands new eyes, that
few have hearts of steel. That resolve can be
eaten away like the fungus eats our boots.
He stands to one side. She frowns at our plans.

Perhaps these are minute inattentions.
The trails wind, twist, bound by vines that trip.
Below us, cities we must liberate
bask in corruption, rife with citizens

whose poverty of vision we have sworn
to clarify. But up here the sun smudges
the steaming sky. We rust like old machetes.
We stare at the horizon when lectures

turn to sacrifice. We recall the laugh
of a lost comrade. Some see her to this day,
pitched in the dust of that stinking alley.
Someone must stay to feed our camp moochers,

our parrots and dear dogs. What’s glory to them?
What do they know of waste and failure? Some
must stay behind. Too many hands go up.
Too many eyes cannot meet other eyes.