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The War Was Good, Thank You

       —In the college cafeteria, a freshman girl asks, So, how was the war?


We live in small steel hooches

shaped like boxcars. We fill bags

with sand and sweat

to pile beside us. Our rifles collect dust

when we sleep. Our rifles collect dust

when we fire them.


In Jalula, I stood in the turret, hands

on the Fifty. I looked over mud walls and fences

into backyards, alleyways. A man

and a woman backed from a doorway; I watched them

through dark sunglasses and the sight aperture.

They kissed, then turned—they saw me. The man smiled,

as if wanting me to keep it a secret. I didn’t tell anyone.


Some afternoons, I lay outside shirtless

and set ice cubes

on my closed eyelids. I let them melt.


After weddings, people point rifles

to the sky, and fire,

as if wanting to put holes

through heaven.


Groups send care packages. There’s always so much

ChapStick, baby wipes; we pile it in boxes

or throw it to the children. I spoil myself

with ChapStick, balm my lips

even when it’s not needed. Outside the wire,

I raise my chin to the sun, flex

my lips, kiss them together, not afraid

of anything, not afraid at all.

from The Stick SoldiersFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2013
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Hugh Martin Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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