From the pistol on the pillow to the knee-gouging broken glass surrounding the place, you know this isn't your usual dinner party. The United States' role in El Salvador's civil war—a conflict that claimed thousands of lives between 1978 and 1992—makes the meeting between these Americans and their warlord host all the more tense. In "The Colonel," violence is just under the surface of the cordiality. You don't normally think of a dinner table as a theater of operations, but make no mistake: there's a battle being waged. The gruesome practice of collecting war trophies has a history longer than you probably want to know. Here it shows the kind of sicko in command of this country's wholesale slaughter.
Poetry can be a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down. Here, the figurative language of the poem makes terrible things like violence and amputation easier to bear.
Sure, "The Colonel" may do a good job getting its point across, but poetry is not the place for politics. It turns an art form into an opinion column.