In combat most of the time nothing happens; but it’s that mad minute — that mad minute — and you are tested in that minute. It becomes habit. I don’t know how I got the weapon away from that guy. I’m just a fat old vet, but I had to do something.
— Maj. Richard Fiero (ret.) after the Colorado Springs Club Q shootings, 21 Nov. 2022

At the door, six sudden
flashes, then far more.
The click and brrp-pop
of hot rounds spraying a room
again, brass shells cascading
to a floor. Bright bottles
splintered at the bar.

Despite stiff joints
he hits the deck, pulls down
those near; snakes elbow-knees
pot-bellied underneath
the buzzing line of fire
through screams, pooled blood:
Afghanistan encore

the arid rocky ridge
mud village maze become
trans-gendered urban pub —
he fells the bearlike shooter;
stomps him nearly dead.
The reflex here
ignoring fear

and cordite air

perhaps a metaphor
for courage torn from war.

Or war

MICHAEL H. LEVIN is a lawyer, solar energy developer and writer based in Washington DC. His work has appeared in three collections plus anthologies and periodicals, and has received poetry and feature journalism awards. He is co-author of two full-length nonfiction books and a concert documentary that’s been performed internationally. ;