Tuesday, March 2, 2010

“Three Battles & One Flight”

[Our regularly scheduled B.N. poem—enjoy!]

Three Battles & One Flight

When your Commander tells you, wipe that smile
off your face, you want to explain the faulty
strategies of Jericho, Anzio, or Iwo Jima,
how thin saplings redefine our nobility,
how nothing should be taken and everything given,
how standing in a mine field the echoes of movement
are deafening—
like fish sliding just under the surface
of water, the dead are simple, untheatrical—

The fourteen year-old soldier smokes American cigarettes,
imagines the scents of sex, believes he will
be taken to heaven whole and clean.
They say the pilot is altered
by the sky—at times the horizon means nothing
and there is not enough fuel to go home. Like a
child practicing his scales at the piano—
he wants to go higher.

© to the author 1983-2010

Three Battles & One Flight
appeared previously in the Memphis State Review


  1. Wow, wow and wow. Thin saplings will redefine our nobility.

    I'm so interested in soldiers, the dead ones, the living ones, the ones made out of terra cotta - as well as the history of war - weird I know because I'm such a fanatical pacifist.

    This is beautiful. Sad, but beautiful. Thank you.

  2. Hi Reya: So glad you liked it! Actually, it does make some sense for a pacifist to have an interest in soldiers.

  3. Really liked this piece. The American soldier with the cigarette and the scent of sex. I'm taken back to "Black Hawk Down" which was excellent, by the way.

  4. Hi Kat: I haven't seen Black Hawk Down--perhaps I'll check it out! Glad you liked BN's poem.


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