Another war starts. Living men fold open the dirt.


1st war put feet on the map, saying, Here are tickets to the rockets.

Most common word was millions. Example: millions of poets.

2nd war flashed its rictus. Done with horses. Ironed unhealed fields.

War barked. We came. Piano and flag every room.

Shocked naked. Someone must kill these already-dead.


Then little wars: smoked mountains, blind jungle, tiny skirmish.

Busy snakes in secret photos – postcards of nobody knows.

Train up squads of impostors. County brigades crossing Commons.

Legions in alleys breaking wine barrels. Bosses on beaches.

Waste insufficiently final. Death’s debate unsettled. Then plague.


Fully a plague year: handguns riot to be sick in churchyards.

Faces are covered, are not. Children put sulk in shut windows.

All the pox papers soberly read. News puts the past to sleep.

Remember your gang? What number of reasoned suicides?

But wait, listen: they do hurry-up research all twenty-four hours.

Labs sealed in wax are stewing vaccines – something effective.

Or quarter-effective, or at least entirely holy and non-toxic.

Anonymous armed men will restore the churches.

Smaller saved world, flag-wrapped and hilarious: thanks!

And next war already horizoned, see? They come.

Bloody bowls of flowers in flames! Fight again, my champions!

Robert Clinton

Robert Clinton lives near Boston, has an MFA in writing from Goddard College, and has been a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Saraband Books published Taking Eden (poems). He’s had poems in Wisconsin Review, Antioch Review, Stand and The Atlantic, among others. A book of poems, Wasteland Honey, is forthcoming from Circling Rivers Press.

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