Best Defense

A poem about the haunted war correspondent Paul Watson

This poem is from Dan O’Brien’s 'New Life,' which is now available.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 9.47.27 AM

This poem is from Dan O’Brien’s New Life, which is now available. (You might remember that a coupla years ago, I did an item on his previous book.)

The War Reporter Paul Watson Describes His Character

Feeling like a dead guest on a talk show

Couch with more dead guests and a dead host who

Entertain a studio audience

of the dead, all for the invisible

dead who watch at home. But sometimes at night 

he’ll still dream of life. With so many friends

gone — what could be the reason? His penance

is reporting, but redemption will come

from dropping out, giving up, whenever

he finds the courage.

Image credit: CB Editions

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at

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