Up from the valley came the faint rattle of gunfire
and the distant cries of ISIS fighters charging on Raqqa.
From my vantage-point I had a view of the battle.
I was a new recruit, an American, not yet ready
for engagement with the enemy — too raw for hand-to-hand combat.
I spent days wandering unnoticed, ungreeted, and disdained, an alien
in a hostile land, tolerated but unwelcome — a suspect convert.
I strayed, like a lost soul, through an unreal desert,
ears ringing to conversations held in an annoying foreign tongue.
I longed for another American, for a word in English.
Paraphrases from the novel Running Elk by Rex Ellingwood Beach.