His heart gave out two nights ago

at 29, four years out of Iraq.


In war, with mangled vehicles,

mechanics strip the intact parts.

Fuel pump, clutch, perhaps an axle,

roof hatch, carburetor, clutch,

random gauges, a machine gun mount.

Whatever works.


Back home in Pinson

Tennessee, he heard cicadas

saw his head

around the clock.

A jobless drift of smashed chairs.

A son meandering the fence

around my sister’s yard,

tremors in his vision as he

spat accusations in the grass.


Meth: a gnashing chatter.

Heroin: molasses in a moan.

His Purple Heart

lying with its recovered bullet

in a satin-lined box.


A year of VA rehab lockdown,

with a Johnson City keyhole view:

him, his eyes lost in the mountains,

from a bench out on the lawn.


Two nights ago, his heart gave out

at 29. He’s on life support

until they harvest organs.


Eric Forsbergh

Eric Forsbergh’s poetry has appeared in The Journal of The American Medical Association, Zeotrope, Artemis, The Cafe Review, and other venues. In 2016, he was awarded a Pushcart nomination by The Northern Virginia Review. He is a Vietnam veteran.

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