This isn’t about a man evaporating to skeleton,
or joe bargaining with air
from a combat zone
as his father lies on the crucifix bed,
moaning so coherently the sins of the world
coalesce, come forth in black chugs
of foam, intestine, final whispers of God.
Not the twenty-by-twenty-foot crater
where the memory of joe’s name lay
less than a week before,
and the surgically sliced face of Khobar Towers,
and the blood, and the globs of flesh
that may someday be you or me.
Not even the memory of morning drill
at Rocky Mountain Arsenal—numbered
chairs matched to numbered masks,
assigned lanes, impromptu sirens,
seven-second scramble to don
writhing rubber faces before nerve gas
can drop the body in a heaving break dance.
And after, stepping outside, the ice fog lifts
as from a lunar landscape,
iridescent sun rising between snow plain,
mountain and smog crest.
This is what joe means—three changes
of clothes (enough in his college days),
three pairs of shoes with no holes (enough
for old age), a quiet room with comfortable
bed and covered mirrors.
by Will Harris
Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Will Harris was born into a military family and spent most of his public school years outside the U.S., particularly in England and Germany. After serving two military staff tours in the Middle East, he left the military but returned to live in the United Arab Emirates. He and his wife visit the U.S. during the summer months. Will’s writing is forthcoming or has been published in African American Review, The Austin Writer, Cold Mountain Review, College Language Association Journal, Colorado-North Review, decomP, Eleventh Muse, Existere, Mantis, MELUS, NEBULA, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Storyscape, The Trinity Review, Voices in English, Wascana Review, Word Riot, Writers’ Forum, and The Zora Neale Hurston Forum.