Wednesday, September 26, 2007

War Babies

The bullets whistle like crickets. Down water
the small children huddle not by a fire
where potatoes blacken on twigs but under stones
like rodents gnawing the air and aroused for a split-
second deciding. The trampling down bushes,
the leaves cracking, the branches bent back
like whips . . . the forest is squeezing them till they pop.
They draw a bead on the encroaching brogans
and, listen, you hear the clicks of the hammers and the eyes
rising as a steam bubbles from the dirt from sheer
friction. There is no fear here in the seeds
because learning was a one-room detonation
called birth. There is nothing to imagine
and no toys but wounds, and what is dead
was not living. Suffer them for the kingdom is seething,
and like lizards on extended legs lunging
forward and backward, they know the rudiments
of behavior and are satisfied when the night screams.

(This poem appeared in The Minnesota Review.)

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