lives in Memphis, Tennessee.
He has published online with Winning Writers, Wandering Army, The Legendary, Poetry Super Highway, carte blanche , and others.
—Back to Orsorum Contents/Issue Links—
Got an e-mail, says hey we’ve got a vet down here,
injured back in ’69, combat-wounded Vietnam
had a breakdown
as far as we know, and
has anyone in our catchment
lived at this level of injury this long?
And so like a flag is the question raised
when a man refuses nothing.
What a fire it was that raked him high and wide
and so scoured his name! Identified by his nerve root
and his last four, dead at nineteen, total care at fifty-nine,
more alive for the death he drags behind and pushes before him
than the man he lost, this man is still alive precisely because
he lives with himself, though the world repeats the insult
to the brain, beaten to dullness but driven home,
that a circumstance, as dire and as near to death
as it seems, would occasion this question:
what state hath he in this dignity?
What moves more slowly
than his secretions, or expresses
poorer blood than his own? Who else
would remember his unworthiness in his prayers?
(Who sleeps at night and dreams he was never better)
And what if he’s kept alive because we keep him happy?
Meaning he keeps himself happily, meaning he would
outlive his caregivers, and tax the physician,
and put the idle question
“Why Are We in Vietnam?”
We’re in the mood that brought us to power,
when we knew we were no longer loved.
There are leaflets floating everywhere.
Our thoughts always lead to that rooftop
where the eleventh-hour criminals are bound.
The absenteenth of november it was,
and thirty days that hath no number is April Jane.
The portals of infection are there,
the slave ways and the slaughterhouse manners,
the way we remember, now we’re gone.
We are in our second madness now.
Of self and soul there is no reunion, but one
interminable meeting. Like fires we breathe,
like hell we’re stomached, the unexamined life
let sprawl. How do we so bear ourselves
that our bearing is all that matters? We should pay
our respects, we should claim responsibility—
gather our children, our scatterbrains, or forever
leave them laughing. To be grounded forever,
or twisted free. That’s all that a batch
of leaflets can say—a gobbet of warm words,
a last fistful bursting in air.