A Poem by Andrea Wyatt

This winter we stay here,
packed in crates of smashed bone
that cover the hills of Cambodia and Viet Nam, the
boulevards of Prague, the Chilean mines and vineyards—
fruit plantations of Guatemala
where men sit
outside the gates begging for bread—

of Guantanamo—the crust of blood on the Cuban coast;
My country rots away like dead flesh,
betraying history, my country,

built on the bones of slaves, eats
the bodies of her children, cages music and poetry in pens like dogs—

my country, that I will not leave—
that I cannot love—
that I cannot sleep inside of—

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The Eternal Wars

A Poem by Chris Butler

Blood and oil
have never mixed,
as all the grains of sand,
are outnumbered by the stars
in the bosom of the earth
that are never rinsed clean
with biblical floods,
showing the indifference
of our one and only god,
choking the stenches of
gunpowder, lime
and the freedom of death

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Independence Day

A Poem by Violet Mitchell

All the ammo is gone in the sky.
I stocked everyone’s back pocket

with a stub of aloe vera, just in case
the war can’t wait. We celebrate,

and sometimes forget what day it is.
My great uncle says they sound

like his trench buddy slumping over
and the red dripping down the bridge
of his nose or the boy he kicked
to the jungle to save him from orange
morphing American War bones.

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The Kübler-Ross Model

A Poem by Violet Mitchell

You hold me closer to the light
of the wick, the flickering
the wicked
sell numbers at the bottom of pages
pagan sage
pay a gun’s corsage

I haven’t been to a wedding in sixteen years,
the gap in your front teeth says.
I forget how a bouquet of stems
squeaks against sweaty palms.

psalms disappear from vows
dispense dirt from sore cheeks
seek research on the history of baby’s breath
breadth of waist
bread to waste
crumbs water falling down a veil
water presenting autumn’s fashion trends

I remember your dinner prayer
air sucking string
for a hymn
kinship, inheritance
brushing hips with plot

the heel of your hand
scratching my forehead sweat

the evergreens with tinsel
could drape their last days
no matter the holiday

the shadows keeping the North snow
shatter rows of carrot leaves

the idea that zeroes are important
that heros import giants

aunts sing in choirs, discuss rhetoric,
design table legs
I knew you could see how
the roasting process is slow,
but not linear.

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IRIS ORACLE [from Diary Of A Tear-cutter]

A Poem by Stefanie Bennett

The dirty linen’s tumbled after
That last cursed war:
My crest fallen uncle can’t come back.

I’ve trekked from the shores of
San Remo, past cathedrals
That reek of Christian pitying…

To Valenza – where thirteen shrews
Wail in their eventide black
Beneath seven stars
Forming the shape of the plough

To find one stone commemorates you
Giuseppe, partisan shot
By German and provisionals of Italian militia.

‘And only my own kind will kill me,’ *
Sang a brother
Facing another diabolical accord.

Surely this is where grief spins
Its curtain calling
Among the fur trees:
The ritual of diametrical deceit.

Who’s fallen? Never our national astronomer
Nor the ragged pennant
Restored along with the invaders.

I taste the bitterness of sulphur
No scythe
Can cut clean

– And we begin to curse together.
We who’ve unbridled the blood lore
Still holding Valhalla proud.

[* a line from a poem by Osip Mandelstam]

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Arms Dislocated

A Poem by Tim Staley

I’ve read enough women poets to know
they bleed for life
and men bleed against it.
I buried the soldier in me
like a placenta that still
pulses underground.
Lynn Strongin says,
tough-minded poetry
will necessarily
be the most triumphant
in the end.

A mind isn’t tough at all,
it’s blown to shreds in a second.

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The Dead

A Poem by Robert Brooke

Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!
There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old,
But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold
These laid the world away; poured out the red
Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be
Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene,
That men call age; and those who would have been,
Their sons, they gave, their immortality.
Blow, bugles, blow! They brought us, for our dearth,
Holiness, lacked so long, and Love, and Pain.
Honour has come back, as a king, to earth,
And paid his subjects with a royal wage;
And Nobleness walks in our ways again;
And we have come into our heritage.

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