“For His Own Good” by Gabrielle Madrid

In Sister Mary Teresa's first grade class,
he was the new kid, and I saw right away,
that he'd need protection, and I'd be the protector.
But bullies got to him first. Before I knew it,
He was down, his red bicycle- a memory.
Days after his beating we'd get together,
and watch the miniature wood toads
hopping along their sandy water banks.

After high school, Jack and I signed up
for a round in the military. Not more than
A year after training, in that stinking, searing,
Hell of a desert, he shot a lonely mongrel dog.
Jack looked small and spineless clenching a life sized gun.

Sinking in hot quicksand:
I'm running in the grass with my dog, Sunny.
There's dinner at Scordato's on my parent's anniversary.
The cut-grass cologne of a football field in autumn,
and the cleavage of my favorite actress Coco Espinoza.

Two years in and Jackie's telling me, "My life has become death."
Not that I hadn't figured it out already.
He's now another person- a miscreation of sorts.
We raided a tiny forsaken village. I caught Jack alone
raping an adolescent Iraqi girl. He cut off her long dark hair
and shoved it in her little mouth. He never even saw me,
but I can still hear someone's daughter screaming

while her arms try to cradle her own shaking body.
It was then, I was sure - Jack's demon had won him over.
The country boy has become a man of war.
Madness is touching each of us. It might be
the temperature, the badlands, or our own
minds that will kill us all.

Last night while out on a mission, I freed Jackie
from the evil spirit that swallowed his soul.
This is what I call friendly-fire. He was my friend.
He loved his mother, he loved Jesus, the
sound of a steel guitar, and his country.