The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Afghanistan Reflection

Posted on | September 19, 2011 | 13 Comments

by Smitty

This is something I worked on for a while, and presented to my colleagues at Mazar-E-Sharif, as I was enjoying the farewell barbecue:

Afghanistan Reflection

Vanity of vanities,
and what they say about those
best laid plans of mice and men.

As improvement we’d impose,
in such far places as these,
with results nearing chagrin,

Seeking to befriend our foes
with security and COIN,
rather than forcing the knees.

That the wider world they join,
which some prosperity knows,
and lives in relative peace.

Thus, we encounter disdain,
and corrupt activities,
as sure as the hot wind blows.

But if, by chance they should seize
that old liberty monsoon,
suddenly, likelihood grows,

That our efforts are not breeze,
that over mountaintop goes,
struggling to move it, in vain.

-CLS, August 2011

As delivered by the author:

Process afficionados might find a notebook shot of interest:


13 Responses to “Afghanistan Reflection”

  1. Anonymous
    September 20th, 2011 @ 3:18 am

    Extraordinarily clever verses, Smitty.

  2. BrianBoru
    September 20th, 2011 @ 5:29 am

    never was one for poetry but I appreciated it much more listening to you read it.  nicely done. and thank you for your service.

  3. JeffS
    September 20th, 2011 @ 6:38 am


    You’re a poet,
    And we all know it!

  4. Matt Lewis
    September 20th, 2011 @ 10:53 am

    Verse is usually better spoken.

    Smitty:  Warrior Poet of America.

  5. richard mcenroe
    September 20th, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

    A Squaddy’s Ode to Afghanistan:

    And welcome home, Smitty.  Police up your gear and the beer lamp is lit.

  6. Chris Smith
    September 20th, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

    Excellent. See, @rsmmcain:twitter : Disqus is cool.

  7. Chris Smith
    September 20th, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

    I worked on it a while. Let the fame spread.

  8. Chris Smith
    September 20th, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

    I have a couple of others in this form. Perhaps I should work them up. But not right away.

  9. DaveO
    September 20th, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

    East Camp or West Camp, if you don’t mind my asking.

    In 2004, I was in East Camp with a mixed company of ANA, with the rest of the team and kandak in West Camp.

    Methinks if Dostum is still around, things will change after we’re gone.

    Get in a little match of buzkashi yet?

  10. Joe
    September 20th, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

    Do they have Beat poetry readings out there in Bumstuckistan? 

  11. smitty
    September 21st, 2011 @ 4:55 am

    I was at Camp Marmal proper, working around the RC North HQ.
    None of that buzkashi, stuff, though.

  12. smitty
    September 21st, 2011 @ 4:55 am

    Not so much. However, there are tons of job openings. . .

  13. Soopermexican
    September 21st, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

    worst rap song ever.