Theater of War | Jeffrey Brown

The sergeant said:
To see someone
without an arm or leg
you know what is wrong.
But what if what’s missing
is inside. Who sees?

Think back and then
look out at these faces:
the wounded and might-as-well-be
the steady and straight hold-on-to-me
with traces of the hero
before and after

etched in the skin
in a theater of war
and the lack of—what?
Not courage
not heart
not family or memory—
the demon itself.

Another: over and over
I wonder what made him
feel so hopeless.

My name is a sad song.
Who would have thought
it would one day become
the sound
a man makes
in despair?

Sophocles was a general
in the Athenian army
so who knows where
the war ends
and the art begins?
(And who will write
our wars?)

The actor tells me:
They lean forward.
They listen
and cry.
And the room changes
like the penny has dropped.

Ajax killed men
and then animals
thinking they were men.
Then he killed himself
thinking he was
less than a man.

 

From The News (Copper Canyon Press, 2015).
Poema tomado de Narrative Magazine Keeps Evolving, correspondiente al mes de septiembre de 2014.

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