“Give me five good reasons,” said my father.
“Give me five good reasons to negotiate.”
I said: “Nicholas and Thomas,
Mickey and Morgan and Andres.”
The fifth good reason to leave Iran alone
Is twenty-three years old.
His favorite joke is:
“I make excellent Chile,
But I was born in Argentina.”
Andres was always lifting a cloud of steam
Heavy with the scent of simmering beef
And twelve wicker baskets left over
He is generous, he loves to sing
And his fingers dance like spider legs
Over the steel chords of a thrift-shop guitar
He used to work 20 hours a day
Tweaking engine designs, modeling propulsion
Awake until the alarm went off for PT
Throw on his uniform, lace up his boots
To defend the airways of his adopted home
The fourth good reason to leave Iran alone
Is twenty-one years old
Already an officer, and no one is surprised.
Class president, directed every fundraiser,
Found money for pregnant mothers,
For starving seniors, for school lunches,
No one could say “No” to Morgan.
Morgan was always on her knees
For hours of unbroken stillness
While shadows drifted and faded out.
I wonder if she prayed so much
Because she was afraid to die
But situations forced her to be brave
Morgan saved me from a stalker
Still wearing her combat fatigues
Ever since, I have imagined
My guardian angel in camouflage.
The third good reason to leave Iran alone
Is twenty-two years old
Waiting six months for a radio signal
To ping from the depths of Neptune’s grave
And summons him to a cloister.
Mickey says NAVY is an acronym:
Never Again Volunteer Yourself.
He ignored his own advice.
Condemning himself for five-to-life
On a silent submarine deployment
Mickey was always tragically awkward
Swaying to an old jazz record
In his brother’s jacket and his church shoes
While the girl in his arms laughed
At the man she is about to marry.
But there was no awkwardness in his swing
When he clocked a man across the face
Who dared to put his hands on me,
A kid he scarcely knew.
The second good reason to leave Iran alone
Is twenty-three years old
And a royal jackass when he isn’t saving my life
By raiding my apartment at two in the morning
And confiscating my razors, my scissors--
--Anything which could have created my scars.
Or calling at five in the morning, Pentagon time
To ask his kiddo if I’m still throwing up Gatorade.
Thomas is always bickering with me
Like the salty old Irishman he’s fast becoming
Who smokes a pipe and takes a drink
No matter what I say about “lung cancer”.
He springs out of nowhere, like Gran’s daoine sidhe
Whenever I get myself in trouble
The car crash, the breakup, the first deployment--
He’ll drive nine hours to check on me
But soon, he won’t be able to
His ship deploys at Christmas.
The first good reason to leave Iran alone
Is nineteen years old
But was destined for deployment in 1916
When his great-great-grandfather
Began an unbroken chain of military service
From Flanders to Saigon to Baghdad, to
Security clearance is required to know,
Which his mother and I do not have.
Nicholas was always wearing the damn sweatshirt
Whose rip expands every time I pull the zipper,
Which is men’s extra large on a woman, extra small
But I’ve worn it to bed, to work, to the grocery store
For these forty days and forty nights
That I wait between phone calls.
Nicholas promised me a hundred thousand times
That this deployment would be over before I knew it.
My boyfriend is a hellbent liar.
He ought to remember the sound of a ticking clock
Driving him insane, pushing him to panic
While his dad was on a ship for 20 years.