Tag Archives: micah garen


Lt. Col. John Darin Loftis made people smile. He knew he could bridge Afghans and American military forces. He studied Pashto and even selected a Pashto name for himself – Ehsaan, which means beholden. He would introduce himself to people on the street using his halting language skills. You can see the bemusement in their faces in Micah Garen’s film Call Me Ehsaan, from The New York Times. Loftis even memorized Pashtun poetry and often recited Rahman Baba’s work with a Kentucky lilt.

Along with another soldier, the Lieutenant Colonel  was executed in the Interior Ministry one cold February day in 2012. Another green on blue killing. My poem from the Collateral Damage collection is a tribute to his care and kindness. A section reads

softness in his smile
signals the little boy
executed in February

adventure of learning Pashto
hearing the music of its poetry
reciting it imperfectly
executed in February

whimsy of picking a name
for himself out of a hat
Ehsaan beholden
back of the head as snow fell

You can reserve your copy of Collateral Damage at the Finishing Line Press Web site, https://finishinglinepress.com/product_info.php?products_id=1977. Orders received before March 14th ship at reduced rate.