Volume 25, Number 3

Passive Voice

At an Air Force base in New Mexico
the control room resembles a cockpit,
No Playstation this time.
Cross-hairs on the screen of a would-be fighter pilot
follow a car as it moves through a city
thousands of miles away.
All day along the border between
Afghanistan and Pakistan,
American drones hover.
Hellfire missiles unleash death,
said to be precision strikes,
harmless to civilians.
But the woman who waits at the border
for a boy named Fariq to meet her
and bring her home
will wait for hours until dark,
when a messenger comes
to tell her the boy is dead.
Headlines will read:
Boy Killed by Drone,
ominous twist on the passive voice,
as if software alone could kill a boy,
or a shovel dig his grave.

—Kathleen M. Kelley