The first night I attempted escape from LA, another woman was killed

in the ant-hill, sweatshop apartment facility across the street —

monochrome vision, windows broke, held together cardboard

& duct tape hell, nine flights up, elevator not worth the risk,

urine seasoned hallways, mattress on the floor, tricycle in the closet,

last year’s calendar covering perforations left by other bullets.


The blast pushed her & what was left of her brain through the window.

Falling fast and heavily landing on the rusted iron park bench,

bolted to the ground, reserved for recycled people, junkies, & penniless

night owls needing to be somewhere. Her body exploded into a pink mist,

her bruised shell a perfect origami fold, dripping blues, oranges, greys,

yellows & purples.


Curious people, with no money for entertainment or diversion, found meaning

in death & jumping to conclusions, their kids infected with ringworm, leaches,

& lice, chased each other until their mothers slapped them resentfully stupid.

Cops on overtime investigating the scene lusted after those slapping

women, their revolvers silent on their hips begging for sweet release.


Watching from my front window, inspecting the unmarked law enforcement

automobiles, a convoy of meat wagons & reporters sniffing for blood,

News at 11. Yellow police tape had been up for hours, blocking the streets,

locking me inside, spare cops collecting casings, like years later I would collect shrapnel. 

SYLVIA BOWERSOX served her first tour in Iraq in 2003-2004 as a U.S. army broadcast journalist attached to the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul. Her assignments took her around the country, but much of her time was spent in Baghdad, at Coalition Provisional Authority headquarters, which serves as the background for much of her work. She returned to Iraq for two more tours as a "3161" press officer assigned to the U.S Embassy Baghdad public affairs office, and later to the Special Investigator General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). She lives with PTSD, and writes about her experiences in both wars.