“Literature of War: At Home and Abroad” is the best issue we’ve published. It is also the most challenging issue we’ve published.
Literature of War: At Home and Abroad
Tim Lepczyk: Publisher and Poetry Editor
Mark Barr: Fiction Editor
Zoe Calhoun: Editorial Assistant
Daniel Grear: Editorial Assistant
She came with another female soldier on a sunny afternoon. It was Saturday and I was on the ladder, cleaning the leaves out of the second-story gutters.
“Be vigilant, C.” Pulanski yelled over the sound of the gunfire. “I’ll see you on the other side.”
Vehicle is approaching from rear on the left, friendly forces. Passes, takes lead position in convoy. We fall in behind and set proper interval for this portion of the Main Supply Route – MSR Knight.
Jeannie wished Walker would share his thoughts more. He’d abandoned college teaching. He didn’t write, didn’t even read. Why? He said Socrates hadn’t read or written anything, Jesus either, and Homer was blind, though hardly illiterate. Since Walker wasn’t Socrates, Jesus, or Homer, Jeannie struggled to see the relevance.
Jim now wore the dog tag he had given his mother after returning from his first deployment. He wore the standard metal-beaded chain around his neck, but the tag itself was atypical.
We were the infantry, the sons of Odin, the winged gods of war fighting for freedom and the American way of life. Now we’re dying in the streets of America. We survived war; it was the peace that killed us.
My hero will return
to bear hugs,
to warm kisses.
beneath hem of fog
Two Taliban brothers huddle in a hand-scraped trench. They fire pot shots
at a passing convoy of eight trucks, plated and squat armadillos. The bullets
It is not about the stars
nor the sadness
in a constellation.
Not conscripted or coerced
all willing players in a nation’s force.
I see tractor-trailer tires rumbling
over the khaki-tan carcass of a deer—
Eighteen years old and off to war;
my mother broke in the idea
I write about Iraq
when her skin was
carmine, perfumed with
freshly picked celosias
The proper translation
isn’t All is vanity though
such is found everywhere—
I am brittle when the day springs.
My anchored tongue of aged iron
tastes of brown rust. It rests
WMDs? No but
Their colonel met our colonel inside
the TOC to build
It went on, they said.
The road to Baghdad,
The one you saw on the news
With the abandoned cars.
Two Buddhas once stood like giants
in the Afghan province of Bamiyan
until the Taliban blasted them down.
WI sends names to war
our voices cinch at home
They sent me up this tower three days ago,
Just my rifle, rations, and a radio.
I didn’t read Here, Bullet.
I saw the movie.
A rupture in the how-it-was-to-be:
not for any child through me,
we haven’t had a soldier
since the Civil War.
Let’s count coup instead of kill, just a touch,
or sneak into enemy camps, capture a prized
horse, okay, maybe a Hummer can count.
There was no ballad
for you in Balad, no
eulogy tending your ears
Whether it’s my spit-polished boots, the crease
In my trouser, the belt buckle shine, the helmet
We felt like The Beatles
slinging rifles, not guitars.
Kids mobbed us. We moved.
They moved —
We walked together into the darkness
Of an undisclosed location.
The terrible and restless quiet
that preceded the thick wild smoke
and the toppling Jenga tower.
A dirty brown dove sits on the small ledge created by the hightop Chevy’s box. It just sits there, looking around wildly.
This spring we raised $346 from our IndieGoGo campaign. As special thanks to those who contributed, we’d like to acknowledge their support. You all came through in a major way and it’s helped defray the costs of the journal.