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.


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